Ministers admit children's mental health has been underfunded

By Adam Offord

| 25 February 2016

Young people's mental health has been "undervalued and under-prioritised" in the past, government ministers have conceded.

Gyimah and Burt said children's mental health has historically been underfunded. Picture: The British Youth Council

Responding to an inquiry into young people’s mental health by the British Youth Council’s youth select committee, childcare minister Sam Gyimah and social care minister Alistair Burt admitted that children’s mental health has “historically been underfunded”.

They said an extra £1.4bn has been committed to improving children's mental health services over the course of parliament along with £600m announced in the November Spending Review and £537m in January. They added that there is a need to explore how funding already available can be used more effectively.

The government is also seeking to introduce peer support to schools, the ministers said.

“We have already taken significant steps with more funding for charities that support young people’s mental health, advice to schools on how to improve counselling for pupils and a pilot scheme to look at better ways of linking schools and local health services," Gyimah said.

“Now we are turning to young people to hear directly from them about how we can help them support their peers."

Rhys Hart, chair of the youth select committee, which is made up of 11 young people between the ages of 13 and 18, praised the government response.

“We’re glad to see the government accept our findings and are not only acting on some of our recommendations but have also made it clear mental health is a priority at both the Department for Education and Department of Health,” he said. 

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