Mental health hubs for young people to be expanded

Mental health hubs for young people are to be expanded
Mental health hubs for young people are to be expanded - SeventyFour/iStockphoto

Walk-in centres for children and young people are to be expanded as part of efforts to provide more mental health help in the wake of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, ministers will announce the roll out of 24 “early support hubs” to give counselling, group therapy and specialist advice to those who are struggling to cope.

The centres for those aged between 16 and 24 aim to provide help without referral by a doctor or school.

NHS data suggest one in five children and young people in England aged eight to 16 have a probable mental disorder – up from one in nine before the pandemic.

Separate figures show hospital admissions for eating disorders have risen by 50 per cent since the pandemic – with the sharpest rise among young children.

Maria Caulfeld, the mental health minister, said: “This government is taking the long-term decisions needed to make our healthcare system faster, simpler and fairer. Mental health support for our young people is a key part of that.

“No child or young person should suffer alone, and this additional funding for 24 mental health hubs will improve access and bring in more staff and experts who can help those who need it the most.”

The £8 million plan for 24 new hubs expands on a previous commitment of £4.9m for 10 centres, on top of 70 centres already in place across the country.

Eating disorders

Official data show hospital admissions for eating disorders have risen by more than 50 per cent since the first lockdown, with the greatest surge seen among young children,

The figures show almost 30,000 patients whose illness was so severe they required inpatient treatment in 2022-23, compared with 19,000 before the pandemic.

Cases in children below the age of 10 have seen the biggest proportional increase, with a tripling in hospital admissions.

Lynn Crilly, a counsellor and author, said the dramatic changes forced on to everyday life in lockdown had fuelled increased anxiety among children and young people, which triggered and exacerbated eating disorders.

She said: “The whole world turned upside down. The schools were closed, the online presence was more than ever, children were living their lives on their phones, increasingly socially isolated, and seeing influencers and fitness apps promoting weight loss.”

Ms Crilly, the author of Hope With Eating Disorders, said: “Eating disorders are secretive and manipulative so you have kids spending more time at home, more time in their bedrooms away from their parents, for some it becomes an obsession.”