Early help mental health projects receive funding boost

By Dan Parton

| 20 August 2019

Children and young people across England are set to benefit from a £3.3m government investment into 23 projects that focus on early intervention mental health support.

The funding will help charities supporting LGBT young people. Picture: Paul Carter

The projects - which include community-based counselling services, mentoring and arts programmes - aim to offer children and young people up to 25 the opportunity to access mental health support.

They have an emphasis on improving access to support outside of NHS services, including for groups such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people, or those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The funding is coming from the Health and Wellbeing Fund, part of a programme of government investment in the voluntary sector. The projects will be funded through the scheme in their first year, and additional joint funding from local commissioners will be agreed for two years afterwards.

Among the schemes receiving funding is LifeLine Community Projects in Barking and Dagenham. This will receive around £298,000 to expand its prevention work with young people most at risk of poor mental health.

Meanwhile, York Mind will receive £50,000 to develop its Arts Award programme, which connects young people to the arts, enabling them to increase their skills, confidence, sense of identity and reduce isolation, alongside one-to-one support.

In Manchester, the Proud Trust's Peer Support Project will receive £23,000 to support more LGBT young people through life-changing events, including discovering their sexuality/gender and coming out.

Minister for mental health at the Department for Health and Social Care, Nadine Dorries, said: "We know children and young people today face many pressures at home and in their social and academic lives, but giving them easily accessible mental health support at an early age can help them thrive later in life.

"That's why the government is investing billions every year to transform mental health care, and giving more money to innovative, community-led projects run by people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to supporting young people by providing them with the tools and means they need to manage their own mental health."

Kathy Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Mental Health Providers, welcomed the funding.

She said: "The voluntary sector has a key role in transforming mental health care, and offers a range of support for children and young people. The sector is innovative, has reach into communities, and there is huge potential to expand and scale up its offer."

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said: "Head teachers say pupil wellbeing and mental health is one of their top concerns. Evidence shows that 75 per cent of mental health issues are established by the age of 24, so early care has the potential to transform so many lives and allow young people to reach their full potential.

"The Mental Health Network recognises that often the best place to receive mental health support is not in a hospital or formal clinical setting, so the range of community-based schemes backed today is very encouraging and we will need to see these schemes supported long into the future beyond the one-year funding announced today."

In April, analysis by the children's commissioner for England found that a third of clinical commissioning groups had cut "low-level" mental health support for children and young people in 2018/19.

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