Alex Chalk MP has welcomed the choice of Gloucestershire to pilot new mental health support services for children.
Gloucestershire will be one of twenty-five national “trailblazer” regions, establishing specialist mental health services to a population of nearly 500,000 children and young people.
The new mental health support teams will be based in and near schools and colleges and will start giving support in 2019.
Each designated team will support up to 8,000 children and young people in around 20 schools and colleges in their ‘trailblazer’ area.
Mr Chalk recently led a Parliamentary inquiry into the impact of cyber bullying and social media on young people’s mental health. He said:
“Today’s digital age is putting enormous pressure on children and adolescent mental health. And with ever more primary age children across Cheltenham using social media, our society is entering uncharted territory. We owe it to future generations to address these issues now. I’m delighted that our local community has been chosen to lead the way.
He continued “This has been a key priority for me. I launched my Parliamentary inquiry after visiting schools and speaking with pupils across Cheltenham. It was very apparent that there is simply too little research and too few hard facts.
“One in nine young people aged 5 to 15 had a mental health condition in 2017. Teenagers with a mental disorder are more than twice as likely to have a mental disorder in adulthood. It’s more important than ever that our children get safe specialist support.”
Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention Jackie Doyle-Price said:
“Early intervention is crucial when it comes to mental ill-health and today’s announcement will ensure that young people can immediately access life-changing support when the signs of mental health issues first appear, helping to prevent these problems from escalating further into adulthood”
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
“Children today experience pressures that we as adults often find hard to appreciate, or possibly even understand. We are much more aware of mental health in the education sector now than in decades gone by and rightly so, and teachers are often able to recognise the early warning signs of changes in their pupils’ behaviour or mood, but they are not mental health professionals.
“That’s why through these new support teams working with schools, we will speed up access to specialist services and make expert advice available to those who need it the most.”