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PM and Dr Alex George meet with young people to talk about mental health

Friday, 05 March 2021 Mind

Earlier today the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr Alex George met with four young people with experience of mental health problems. This coincided with an announcement from the UK Government of a £79m investment to boost mental health support for children and young people in England, which will come out of the £500m previously announced in the Chancellor’s November 2020’s Spending Review.

Children and young people have been among those most impacted by the pandemic. Mind’s survey carried out during the initial lockdown found that three quarters (75%) of young people aged 13-24 with an existing mental health problem reported worse mental health. A survey by YoungMinds in January this year suggested that 67% of young people with mental health problems believed that the pandemic would have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.

Saadia, is 18 and lives in Wales, she is part of Mind’s Youth Network. Saadia began experiencing mental health problems when she was 15. She says:

“When I started my GCSEs, I struggled with the pressure of achieving well and ended up having my first anxiety attack in school. I feel so fortunate to have gone to a school where I was supported and given the opportunity to understand what I was going through in regard to mental health and ever since It’s helped me talk openly about how I feel. It's good to hear that the Government is investing in Mental Health Support Teams, so more young people get support for their mental health like I did.

“It’s so important the Prime Minister hears directly from young people, because sometimes we are not involved in conversations, which concern us and our futures. The best way to create real change and improve support for young people with mental health problems is to consider the experiences and of those affected. This opportunity will allow us as young people to not just be heard, but also make important contributions to such an important issue.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, says:

“It’s positive that the Prime Minister and newly-appointed Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr Alex George are listening to the views and experiences of children and young people affected by mental health problems, and that the UK Government have confirmed £79 million of the previously announced £500 million investment has now been allocated to support children and young people’s mental health. With schools re-opening in England next week, the commitment to accelerating investment in Mental Health Support Teams cannot come soon enough.

“We know high levels of poor mental health and problems accessing mental health services were a problem for many children and young people even before the pandemic, and that coronavirus has disproportionately affected younger people. That’s why we’ve been speaking to pupils, teachers, and parents as part of our Education Inquiry to gain a better understanding of the range of issues facing secondary school-age children.

“Over the past year, our young people have faced a whole load of additional challenges, including school closures, loneliness and isolation, and the knock-on effect of the recession causing problems for families such as debt, unemployment, housing, and access to benefits.

“There is still lots more work to be done to make sure every young person gets the support they need and deserve for their mental health. This is a positive step forward in cementing mental health at the heart of UK Government’s recovery plans from the pandemic and beyond.”

Ben, YoungMinds Activist, says:

“It was really great to speak with both the Prime Minister and Dr Alex George this morning. I am pleased that they are committed to fighting such an important issue and hope that the insights of young people can help them bring about the most effective change.”

Lana, YoungMinds Activist, says: “It was an absolute privilege to be given the opportunity to talk to the Prime Minister and Dr Alex on a topic I’m so passionate about - I can’t wait to see what the future of children and young people’s mental health holds!”

Emma Thomas, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, says:

“This has been an extremely challenging twelve months for young people across the country, which has had a profound impact on their mental health. It’s very welcome that the Prime Minister and Dr Alex George took the time to listen to the experiences and ideas of young people today, to learn about how COVD-19 has impacted their mental health and what more can be done to help.

“We know that too often young people can’t get the help they need until they hit crisis point – and there’s much more work to do to ensure that help is available earlier on, through schools, communities and the NHS. We hope that today’s meeting will be an important step towards ensuring every child who is struggling with their mental health can get the support they need.”

Watch the video of the PM and Dr Alex George listening to four young people talk about their mental health
• Photos of the PM and Dr Alex George are available by downloading via WeTransfer

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