Invest in prevention rather than cure say mental health charity leaders

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Place2Be and more than 30 other leading charities and organisations have written to the Evening Standard calling for a focus on planning and prevention when it comes to addressing children and young people’s mental health issues. 

Originally published on The Evening Standard.

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, an annual event launched by Place2Be in 2015 to shine a spotlight on the importance of supporting emotional wellbeing from an early age.  

In this time of pandemic, the mental health of the nation’s young people has never been more important. All the evidence tells us that the problem is getting worse and is the worst it's ever been in our lifetimes.  

COVID is a stark reminder of the vital importance of planning and prevention, rather than relying on a cure. Half of lifetime mental illness starts by the age of 14. We know that providing effective support from an early age not only helps children cope with life’s challenges but can prevent problems from escalating and becoming more serious in adulthood. Schools, at the heart of our communities, provide the perfect setting to embed this supportive mindset and to ‘normalise’ discussions around mental health.    

In recent years, there’s been some progress in the creation of effective partnerships and working more collaboratively and creatively to support the mental health of children and families.   

Yet the UK’s children’s mental health system is in need of serious repair: On average local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) spend less than 1% of their overall budget on children’s mental health and 14 times more on adult mental health services than on services for children.  

Now, as we start to look at what’s needed to recover and re-build post COVID, it’s time to find a long-term solution to the mental health needs of the nation. This is not about a quick fix to the crisis. It’s about all sectors – education, health, public, voluntary and private – working together to rethink priorities, rethink society and the investment needed to future-proof the wellbeing of the next generation.  We call on everyone to support the Evening Standard’s Young London SOS campaign to provide mental health support for more pupils in more schools. Our hope is the legacy of the pandemic can be a fundamental rethinking and reshaping of priorities towards the creation of a kinder and more inclusive society.  

Catherine RocheChief Executive, Place2Be  

Richard Andrews, CEO, Healios  

Tim Barker, CEO, Kooth 

Julie Bentley, CEO, Samaritans 

Simon Blake OBE, Chief Executive, Mental Health First Aid England 

Béatrice Butsana-Sita, CEO, Greenhouse Sports 

Sam Butters, Co-CEOs, Fair Education Alliance 

Gina Cicerone, Co-CEOs, Fair Education Alliance 

Brian Dow, Chief Executive, Mental Health UK 

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive, Mental Health Network - NHS Confederation 

Gavin Evans, Chief Executive, Future Youth Zone  

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind 

Laurence Guinness, Chief Executive, The Childhood Trust 

Cassandra Harrison, Chief Executive, Youth Access 

Victoria Hornby, CEO, Mental Health Innovations UK 

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health 

Poppy Jaman OBE, CEO, City Mental Health Alliance 

Dr Adrian James, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists 

Chris Martin, Chief Executive, The Mix 

Sinéad McBrearty, Chief Executive, Education Support 

Bharat Mehta CBE, Chief Executive, Trust for London 

Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive, Onside Youth Zones 

Paula Ojok, CEO, Helplines Partnership 

Matthew Purves, Chair of the Schools’ Wellbeing Partnership 

Charlotte Rainer, Coalition Lead, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition  

Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive, Association of Mental Health Providers 

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation 

Mark Russell, Chief Executive, The Children’s Society 

Michael Samuel MBE, Chair, Anna Freud Centre 

Clare Stafford, Chief Executive, Charlie Waller Trust 

Emma Thomas, Chief Executive, YoungMinds 

Jonathan Townsend, CEO, The Prince's Trust 

Marjorie Wallace CBE, Chief Executive, SANE 

Sir Peter Wanless, CEONSPCC and Childline 

Matt WhittakerChief ExecutivePro Bono Economics 

Mark WinstanleyCEORethink Mental Illness 

 

3 February 2021
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