Children’s mental health charity announces closure

Fiona Simpson
Wednesday, March 16, 2022

A children’s mental health charity based in Hampshire has announced its closure due to lack of funding despite data showing a 50 per cent increase in childhood mental illnesses over the last three years.

Research shows that childhood mental illnesses have increased by 50 per cent over the last three years. Picture: Adobe Stock
Research shows that childhood mental illnesses have increased by 50 per cent over the last three years. Picture: Adobe Stock

It’s Your Choice, which supports around 1,000 young people with support for their emotional health, information advice and guidance, said it will close on 7 April due to “the lack of longer-term funding opportunities over the last two years of the pandemic”.

“There is not an adequate budget for It’s Your Choice to legally trade beyond early April this year. The grants which we have already sourced are not sufficient to guarantee our work and consequently, these will not be paid over to us,” the charity said.

It added that it is in talks with partner agencies across the New Forest to provide support for young people in the area and that trustees have agreed to review the decision should necessary funding be obtained by 7 April.

The charity, which has been running for 35 years, said applications for long-term funding for such services had been “oversubscribed” since the start of the pandemic.

Mike Taylor, chair of trustees at It’s Your Choice, said: “We have explored all opportunities to identify funding for our vital work to continue beyond March and held off making this decision until it was clear that no agency such as NHS or children’s services and no major trust or donor would provide us with the secure income needed. 

“This is despite making a strong case for funding and providing detail of the damaging impact the ending of all our services will have on children and young people in the New Forest. Our priority is to our children and young people and we are looking at every option to keep elements of our services going for them.”

The closure comes as a report from the Royal Society of Medicine finds that rates of mental illness amongst children have increased by 50 per cent in just three years with only a quarter of children with a mental disorder receiving support from mental health professionals. 

The report notes that data from the Office for National Statistics shows that teachers are the most common source of support for such children, however, just 40 per cent of classroom teachers in England report feeling equipped to teach children in their class who have mental health needs, and only 32 per cent know how to help pupils access specialist mental health support outside school.

Meanwhile, research from Comic Relief shows that 71 per cent of parents think there isn’t enough mental health support available for children and 28 per cent say they don’t know how to start a conversation with their child about their child’s mental health.

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