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System 'can't handle the crisis of pupils' mental health'

Survey of more than 4,000 pupils and parents reveals 'unacceptable barriers' to pupils getting help with mental health issues

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Survey of more than 4,000 pupils and parents reveals 'unacceptable barriers' to pupils getting help with mental health issues

A charity today released figures showing that a third of pupils who looked for support for mental health issues from their school or college had problems getting it.

The YoungMinds charity, which campaigns for better mental health support for children and young people, has released the figures to coincide with its 25th anniversary.

They show that just 6 per cent of young people and 3 per cent of parents believe that there is enough support to address children's mental health problems.

“Every day we get calls to our parents’ helpline from parents whose children can’t get help at school,” said chief executive Sarah Brennan. 

“Some have been waiting months for an assessment, or have been told that they don’t meet the threshold for treatment.

“Despite the great progress being made by campaigns like Heads Together to get people talking about mental health, as well as extra government investment, there can still be unacceptable barriers to getting help.”

'Young people starting to self-harm'

The charity’s research, released in its #FightingFor report, involved interviews with more than 2,700 children and young people (of whom 79 per cent were under 18) who have sought help for mental health problems, and more than 1,600 parents whose children had sought support.

While most people believe there is now less stigma about mental health, young people and parents face "a huge range of barriers" to finding the right support, the report says. And while parents “generally welcomed” the government’s recent proposal to introduce mental health support teams into a quarter of schools by 2022/23, they believed this “didn’t go far enough”.  

“We hear from young people who have started to self-harm or become suicidal while waiting for support. All the evidence shows that getting the right help quickly can prevent problems from escalating,” said Ms Brennan.

She added: “We’ve been fighting for young people’s mental health for 25 years. Getting the nation talking about mental health is a crucial part of that fight, but it needs to be matched by a mental health system that is equipped to handle the current crisis.”

The research found that young people and parents reported barriers at every stage in their search for help. Only 9 per cent of children and young people, and 6 per cent of parents, said they had found it easy to get the support they needed.

Of the children and young people interviewed, 5 per cent were aged 13 or under, 28 per cent were 14-15, 40 per cent were 16-17, 17 per cent were 18-21, and 10 per cent were 22-25.

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