Children in crisis don’t need a celebrity ambassador, they need a fully funded mental health service

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces Youth Mental Health Ambassador
Sophia Purdy-Moore

In response to Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Boris Johnson announced that the government has appointed Love Island star Dr Alex George to be the nation’s youth mental health ambassador. The A&E doctor has been tasked with prioritising mental health in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which has had a devastating impact on children and young people’s mental health.

However, the problem goes far deeper. Thanks to a decade of Tory austerity, children’s mental health services are at breaking point and have been for years. Service users and campaigners took to Twitter to highlight the government glossing over the deeply entrenched problems of a criminally underfunded, understaffed service.

Government cuts

Mental health campaigner Ilona Burton shared some shocking facts about government cuts to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS):

“Underfunded” and “understaffed”

Steph Horrocks highlighted their experience of being rushed through an “underfunded/understaffed” system:

One parent recalled children’s mental health services letting down her son with autism on a number of occasions:

A former service user shared their experience of late diagnosis:

Jessica Thorman highlighted an issue that many young people face – an end to support upon turning 18. The abrupt removal of mental health support at this stage in life can be extremely disruptive and detrimental to young people’s mental health:

What needs to change?

Centre for Education and Youth associate Alix Robertson concluded that children’s mental health services need proper funding and government support:

Beyond funding, co-founder of the Speak Up Space suggested that children’s mental health services are in dire need of reform:

It’s clear that the government’s ‘focus’ on children’s mental health this week is a sham. Children and young people don’t need a celebrity ambassador, they need real support provided by fully funded services and trained staff with capacity to help them. If the government keeps cutting away at these vital services, the consequences for the next generation will be utterly devastating.

Featured image via @BorisJohnson/Twitter

Get involved

  • If it’s a medical emergency, or someone’s life is at risk, call 999.
  • If you or someone you know needs to talk, call Childline on 0800 1111.
  • Support YoungMinds, the voice for young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
  • Volunteer with Childline.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Adult mental health services isn’t much better,
      All mental health services are an utter disgrace, but at least the high suicide rate keeps the waiting lists under control.
      Tories cut care massively from 1980’s onwards..
      We now have a broken system to help treat broken children, and adults, where is the transition service for those turning 18?
      Oh that’s nowhere..
      This is the real pandemic and who is counting those in distress?
      That is No one then..

    2. Having just checked out Dr Alex George’s internet footprint he seems like a ‘good fit’ for an apologist policy framed by identifying with the bereaved rather than suicide or the structural aspects of suicides that were a consequence of the cuts to the mental health sector highlighted by Caz. Is he a Prawning Fick who just loves the attention?

      1. This has been highlighted because of the lockdown issue. This sticking-plaster solution to mental health services is very much in tune with the current Covid narrative – including giving capn’ Tom the clap.
        The average mortality rate over the last few years = 1600/day. Shocking as that might seem when one is made aware of it it puts the current process of focus upon the bereaved relatives of those that died this day, week or month into perspective. A national policy of a minute’s silence in honour of those that died (for the families of course) would be rendered impossible as it would take over 24 hours to actually perform. Wake up, get real and stop falling for the sob stories. Think of a pick pocket. Picking pockets is easier when the mark is distracted. Simples.

    3. Kids need a Love Star for inspiration, aspiration instead of a beautiful lunch as they do in Europe?
      Physical sustenance has no meaning for the Tories? I guess no inspiration comes from having a served 3 course meal along with the care, and attention that goes with it by the kitchen, and teachers.
      Love is the answer on the magic screen for the Tory.
      Otherwise you’d be feeding the poor, lazy, untalented who have unfair expectations upon the State.
      Why it would be just like in the 12th century where everyone was like that due to the waring aristocracy. This is when the monarchy gained movement in France by treating the populace with respect by curbing the wars, allowing the Commons into the law courts, and equality was the goal.
      The Tories are replaying the adgenda of Fuedal times.
      Perhaps England after all these active social crimes will become a Republic?
      Grab hold of a chair to steady yourself.
      It could be people’s only choice of salvation to enjoy the 21st century with.

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