Children can't wait for years

Mental health is one of the major public health challenges of our time.

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 09:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 11:21 am

In recent years we’ve seen growing awareness in Westminster and the media, but now we need urgent action to match the rhetoric.

Research shows that one in 10 children aged between five and 16 has a diagnosable mental health condition – roughly three children in every classroom.

Meanwhile, three quarters of children with mental health problems cannot access the support they need, with many young people waiting 10 months for the start of treatment. Clearly, we have a major problem.

But despite these troubling figures, we seem to be sleepwalking our way into an ever deepening crisis. It’s time for society to wake up and work together to ensure the next generation of children has better mental health than their parents.

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The Government’s Mental Health Green Paper is a unique opportunity to put this right, but the current proposals lack ambition, the time-frame is too long and the resources too low to achieve the radical step-change we need.

In fact, under the current plans, young people in three quarters of England would see no improvement in five years’ time. Two cross-party committees of MPs have warned this could mean hundreds of thousands of young people missing out on the help they need.

I hope the Government looks again at the Green Paper and puts in place the resource and the time-frames we need to make a real difference.

Every year, Barnardo’s supports more than 272,000 children, young people, parents and carers across the UK, many of whom are suffering from past trauma and at risk of developing a serious mental health problem that will affect their life chances.

These young people need support today, they can’t afford to wait five years.

Javed Khan

Chief Executive Barnardo’s