Record numbers of under 18’s requiring mental health referrals- our CEO’s response
Record numbers of under 18’s requiring mental health referrals our CEO, Ian Soars responds
New statistics released by Young Minds have shown that record numbers of children in the UK are requiring mental health assistance- up by 76% since 2019.
Our CEO Ian Soars wrote the following statement in response:
"The statistics are shocking and there will rightly be much lamenting about waiting times for specialist care and support. Spurgeons’ qualified therapists are seeing hundreds of children to reduce this list wherever we can; as always funds are our only barrier to seeing thousands every year. With appropriate counselling funding, we could see these numbers reduce significantly.
I am particularly interested in the key issues are around why? Why are the numbers increasing so dramatically? Why are our children suffering so badly?
Let’s be clear: there will always be some children who experience mental health challenges. In addition, there are some children’s mental health that could be improved by changes in family life and by providing support to struggling parents. But I do not believe this is what is behind the latest leap in numbers.
Entrenched poverty, coupled with the severe financial constraints on local authority mean that our nation’s children are, without any parallel in modern history, hungry, unsupported, insecure and vulnerable.
I understand the broader economic arguments regarding inflation; but lockdown has already desperately impaired a generation of children. This cost of living crisis is repeating this in a different way to this same generation afflicted by enforced Covid restrictions, therefore compounding the challenges our children and young people are facing.
So what to do?
1. Support our most economically disadvantaged families by easing the universal credit criteria
2. Release funds to schools to enable them to feed hungry children similar to the holiday schemes but all year round
3. Release funds to schools to enable universal family and mental health support.
Without this, we are choosing to repeat the last three years over and over again, and these numbers will continue to rise. We need to act now.”
Debbie Pattison – Clinical Lead:
“We are seeing high numbers of children who are too anxious to go into school. I have heard from parents and children that the pandemic and lockdowns had a real impact on them and now they are struggling with the impact of being forced to stay at home. This caused a real rupture in their education and their social skills. Many lost touch with their friends or found it difficult to stay in touch with friends and are now too anxious to return to school.”