Monday 11 November 2019 / 10:01 AM Barbara Keeley / Jeremy Corbyn

Labour announces plan for real change for young people’s mental health with a counsellor in every school

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley have announced today “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. An estimated 95 per cent of teachers believe that they have taught a child experiencing anxiety, while 60 per cent believe that at least one of the children they have taught are self-harming. 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 leader Jeremy Corbyn called Labour’s plan “a vital investment in the lives of our young people and an investment in our country’s mental health”.

Labour’s plan tackles the 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.

Approximately 185,784 young people were referred to specialists NHS CAMHS services yet only 78,847 received support. CAMHS appointments can cover a range of issues for people aged under 18, including: eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and depression.

The mental health charity Mind has uncovered data that shows that in the past year the NHS in England has cancelled 175,000 appointments in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – an overall increase of 25% compared to the previous year. And only three in 10 young people with a mental health problem were able to access specialist mental health services last year.

Announcing the Healthy Young Minds plan, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“Almost every day someone talks to me about the terrible stresses a child or young person they know are going through. Mental health workers do incredible work but our society is fuelling mental illness on a huge scale and our young people are not getting the support they need.

“As a country, we have to start treating mental health as seriously as physical health. If we don’t help our young people, we are not only failing them, but storing up problems for the future for a whole generation.

“Every young person deserves the support they need for their talents to flourish and to play a full and positive part in the life of the community. Our manifesto will provide the real change young people need to live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives.

“Our Healthy Young Minds plan is a vital investment in the lives of our young people and an investment in our country’s mental health.”

Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow minister for mental health, 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.”