Jeff Smith, Labour’s general election candidate for Manchester Withington, has welcomed the party’s plans to combat the crisis in our young people’s mental health.
Shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley has announced ‘a plan for real change’ for young people’s mental health, pledging a qualified counsellor in every school.
The number of children experiencing mental health problems is increasing, with one in eight 5 to 19 year olds diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder in 2017. Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow minister for mental health, has called this an “emerging major health crisis.”
To deliver real change for young people’s mental health, Labour has pledged an additional £845 million per year for a Healthy Young Minds plan that will:
- Establish a network of open access mental health hubs to enable 300,000 more children to access mental health support directly
- Recruit almost 3,500 qualified, on-site secondary school counsellors to ensure accessible pathways to mental health support
- Ensure access to a qualified counsellor for every primary school in Britain to ensure early prevention and identification of psychological issues
- Work to develop and publish a cross-departmental national strategy to better address adverse childhood experiences and childhood trauma
Labour’s plan tackles the current lack of treatment and early intervention. In 2017, it was estimated that over 100,000 children who had been referred to a mental health specialist did not receive treatment.
Nearly 60 per cent of local authorities have seen a real-terms fall in low level mental health services which are essential for early intervention.
Announcing the Healthy Young Minds plan, Barbara Keeley said:
“The government is failing young people. Too many children can’t access the mental health support they need.
“Our young people deserve better and our country needs real change to tackle the emerging major health crisis in children’s mental health.
“Labour will ensure every school has a qualified professional on hand to support young people with their mental health, create a network of open access hubs for children to access mental health services without waiting months for an appointment.”
“As Manchester Withington’s MP I’ve been a Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health. I’ve heard from many families about the mental health difficulties faced by our children and young people. All too often, people are told they are not sick enough to receive help, are put on unreasonable waiting lists, or cannot access the right support. Mental health workers do an amazing job but are fighting against years of Tory and Lib Dem cuts.
Investing in early intervention is not only the right thing to do, it also makes economic sense long term. Today’s announcements are extremely welcome, and I’m proud that the next Labour Government will make children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing a priority.”