Living through the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of people across our country, particularly children and young people and I thank all constituents who have contacted me about this extremely important matter. I strongly welcome the steps the Government is taking to improve access to mental health support and services. Due to existing diary commitments, I was, unfortunately, unable to attend the Young Minds event in Parliament.
The NHS Long Term Plan increased investment in mental health services by at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24 so that an additional 345,000 children and young people are now able to get the necessary NHS-funded mental health support they need. The NHS children and young people’s mental health workforce has also grown by 40% since 2019.
In 2021/22, the Government provided an additional £79 million in response to the pandemic to expand children’s mental health services in the same financial year. Over 689,000 children and young people under 18 were supported through NHS-funded mental health community services with at least one contact in the twelve months to July 2022, compared to 615,000 for the same period to July 2021.
Mental Health support teams now cover 26% of pupils in schools, a year earlier than originally proposed in the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper. This will increase to 399 teams, covering around 35% of pupils by April 2023, with over 500 planned to be up and running by 2024. Rollout of further mental health support teams is being developed and will be confirmed in due course.
On average, each mental health support team will work with around 8,000 children across 10-20 schools and colleges. All schools involved will have a mental health lead. Each mental health support team is made up of education mental health practitioners and senior clinicians or higher-level therapists, as well as a team manager and some admin support. These teams act as a link with local NHS children and young people’s mental health services.
In our Plan for Patients, published in September last year, the Government committed to expanding mental health support for children at school, given that half of mental health conditions take root by the age of 14. This included a commitment to boost the number of mental health practitioners in primary care and to strengthen mental health support in schools. Furthermore, the Department for Education has committed to offer all state schools and colleges a grant to train a senior mental health lead by 2025, and over 11,700 schools and colleges have taken up the training offer so far. This is backed by £10 million in the 2022/23 fiscal year.
Locally, West Sussex Single Point of access (SPoA) helps children and young people (4-17) to find the right service for then and is a gateway in to CAMHS, YES (11-18), Dialogue and West Sussex Mind – Be OK (16-15). Young Minds gives support and advice to young people, parents & those who work with young people. These additional services can offer free, confidential support and advice to young people in the Mid-Sussex area.
As a constituency MP, I continue to engage with local mental health services about provision across Mid Sussex and my casework team are able to support constituents with personal enquiries.