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UK Youth joins calls for investment in children’s mental health services

12 February 2024

  • News

UK Youth has joined more than 25 organisations in calling for urgent investment in children’s mental health services.

Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth Chief Executive Officer, has added her name to a letter to Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins, highlighting how it is vital young people get the support they need to help them to thrive.

The signatories say, with mental health issues rising, it is crucial young people get the right support at the right time. They are calling for long-term investment in school-based services and have urged the Government to listen to young people and ensure every young person has mental health support in school.

UK Youth, which champions the importance of youth work, has repeatedly called for a joined-up cross-sector approach across services impacting young people. Ms Okezie said: “Working together across sectors and services is key to supporting young people in these difficult times.”

The letter was sent by Place2Be, a children and young people’s mental health charity, as part of children’s mental health week.

Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth chief executive
Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth chief executive

The letter says:

Dear Secretary of State,

One in five children and young people face a probable mental health condition, a continuing rise. A recent YouGov survey found that more than 50 per cent of children face barriers from seeking mental health support, despite struggling, because they are embarrassed, fearful or will not turn to someone they do not know.

About half of mental health conditions develop by the age of 14, so supporting children early on is vital. Yet only 8 per cent of NHS mental health spending goes on children’s services.

The Government’s school-based Mental Health Support Teams will only reach 50 per cent of pupils by 2025.

Place2Be, alongside other leading organisations, has worked in schools and supported children for decades, providing them with a safe place to be themselves, where they can talk in confidence with a trusted, trained mental health professional. This equips them to manage their emotional challenges and feel connected. They are also more likely to stay in education.

It is not just children who benefit. School-based mental health support relieves pressure on parents, school staff and the NHS and is proven to be cost-effective. This Children’s Mental Health Week we must listen to young people and commit to long-term, sustainable investment in school-based support. Young people are counting on us.

Alongside UK Youth and Place2Be, other signatories include Mind, the NSPCC, Barnardo’s and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. To see the full letter, click here.

Place2Be launched children’s mental health awareness week in 2015 to empower, equip and give a voice to every child in the UK. Now in its 10th year, Place2Be hopes to encourage more people than ever to help it reach its goal that no child or young person has to face a mental health problem alone. 

UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. With an open network of more than 8,000 youth organisations and nation partners; UK Youth reaches more than four million young people across the UK and is focused on unlocking youth work as the catalyst of change that is needed now more than ever. To find out more, visit ukyouth.org 

UK Youth is involved in a range of programmes designed to help young people thrive, such as outdoor learning, physical literacy, social action and employability, including Hatch, a youth employability programme run in partnership with KFC. For more on UK Youth’s programmes, see ukyouth.org/what-we-do/programmes 

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