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New child mental health support service launched

It is estimated that in every school classroom in the UK, at least three children are suffering from a mental health issue

Siobhan Fenton
Thursday 21 April 2016 00:06 BST
Children's charity NSPCC says children as young as eight have contacted them to seek help for the condition
Children's charity NSPCC says children as young as eight have contacted them to seek help for the condition (Rex Features)

A new support service for children with mental health issues has been launched in a bid to tackle rising concerns about mental illnesses in young people.

The Department for Education and Department of Health have launched a new interactive resource ‘MindEd’ for concerned children and their families to seek help. The website directs visitors to sections including ‘risky behaviour’, ‘eating disorders’, ‘sexual orientation and gender’ and ‘being a parent in the digital age’ for expert advice.

Research has found that 850,000 children aged 5-16 in the UK are currently living with a mental health issue. This means that in a typical school classroom, at least three children will be affected.

Of adults currently living with a mental health condition, more than half began to experience symptoms before the age of 14. Clinicians argue that early intervention is key in identifying and addressing issues before they shape young peoples’ lives negatively.

Nick Harrop, Media and Campaigns Manager at YoungMinds, a charity specialising in young peoples’ mental health, told The Independent the resource was essential at a time when many other options for young people are becoming harder to access. He said: “We know that early intervention is crucial but many local authorities have repeatedly had their budgets slashed on things like social workers, support programmes for parents, educational psychologists and targeted mental health services in schools.

"This has put a huge burden on services further up the chain, which simply can’t cope with the demand. Young people referred to specialised mental health services are now at the mercy of a postcode lottery."

He added that many modern life places many pressures on children which can add up: “Family breakdown, stress at school, body image issues, early sexualisation, 24/7 online networking, bullying on and offline and uncertainty about the future after school are all piling on the stress.”

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