Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, has backed a children’s charity’s calls for more money so it can be there for every child struggling with their mental health.
Jones is one of 131 MPs and members of the House of Lords who signed a letter from NSPCC chief exec Peter Wanless to Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary.
The letter urges the government to provide extra funding to the charity’s Childline service so every child has a place to turn in their hour of need.
The charity says that 1-in-10 children and young people in England have a diagnosable mental health condition, and yet less than one-third of them receive NHS treatment or support. Recent estimates suggest that as many as 1-in-4 school-aged children experience some form of mental health issue. Without early help, some of these initially manageable problems are likely to escalate to something much more serious, the NSPCC says.
Services like the NSPCC’s Childline are now on the front line of mental health support for young people. Last year 1-in-3 Childline counselling sessions were about mental health and emotional wellbeing. The majority of these took place outside school hours – many in the middle of the night. The service has also seen a 150 per cent increase in counselling sessions with children who are suicidal since 2010-2011.
Some children have told counsellors they are being directed to contact Childline after normal working hours by statutory services, such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) or local authority children’s services in England.
This shows the need for additional out-of-hours support, and is just one of the factors contributing to the huge demand for support from Childline. Currently counsellors can only respond to three out of four children who need their help.
In his letter, Wanless wrote: “The NSPCC urgently needs to increase both the number of available volunteers and to improve and expand the training that they receive.
“This will ensure that Childline is equipped to support the more complex mental health needs children are coming to the service with. It surely deserves Government support and investment.
“We urge the Government to allocate an appropriate proportion of the £300million pledged in the Green Paper reforms to ensure that Childline is equipped to meet the rising demand. When a child is brave enough to reach out it is absolutely vital that the immediate response and support is there for them.”
For more information about the NSPCC’s campaign, visit www.nspcc.org.uk
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