Sheffield MP Louise Haigh highlights 'inadequate' mental health support for young people

A Sheffield MP says that the Government’s support for young people’s mental health is ‘scandalous’.

Monday, 14th February 2022, 2:40 pm
Updated Monday, 14th February 2022, 2:40 pm

Louise Haigh, Labour Sheffield MP for Heeley, claims the Government’s flagship mental health support for schools is inadequate as it provides just one mental health specialist for approximately every 2,800 children.

Speaking out as part of Children’s Mental Health Week, Ms Haigh highlighted what she says is inadequate support for young people across the region.

Her comments come after the Children’s Commissioner found that two-thirds of children do not receive the support they need, and it revealed that one in six children now have a mental health disorder, compared to one in nine before the pandemic.

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In March 2021, the Government announced £79 million as part of its commitment to support young people with their mental health. Nadine Dorries, then minister for mental health and suicide prevention, said: “I am committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and well-being and doing everything we can to ensure young people who need help, get it.”

On February 8, Labour called on Conservative MPs to back its plan to transform mental health services and to guarantee that those who need support, including children, can get access to it within a month. Labour have a plan to install a full-time mental health professional in every secondary school and part-time professional in every primary school.

Labour plan to also put an open access mental health hub for children and young people in every community.

An anonymous 17-year-old said: “We’ve missed so much of our education over the past two years, and this doesn’t just affect us now, but it will affect us in the future as well.”

Another 17-year-old, Meg, said: “Knowing whether or not our A-level exams will go ahead causes us a lot of stress. As well as this, we’re expected to have the same skills we would have if we hadn’t missed any school.”

Ms Haigh also recently revealed that only £53,000 was made available by the Government for Sheffield schools, which she said equates to around 72p per child in Sheffield.

"I have spoken to lots of students and parents and the message that I keep hearing over and over again is that mental health provision is not adequate for young people,” she said.

“Services are under immense stress and the funding that’s been provided by the government is scandalous.

“I’ve been contacted by one parent whose child is self-harming and they cannot access mental health services because they are overwhelmed. This parent told me that the current support is appallingly inadequate and an additional 72p per child is going to do nothing to shore up the system. The system is broken.

“Before the pandemic hit, waiting lists for children and young people to access mental health were already completely unacceptable, now they're even worse. The pandemic has obviously increased anxiety and exacerbated issues that already existed, but the Government simply isn't addressing the levels of demand in our communities.

“Labour has a plan that will provide young people with access to the support they need at the time that they need it. I’m calling on all Tory MPs to back our plan and ensure that they deliver and support our young people.”