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.
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