by Catherine Henderson
Hannah Smith, Policy and Media Officer of national charity “Young Minds”, an organisation committed to improving the mental health of children and young people, is not surprised by the report findings. Smith says “We are urging people to pay attention to early intervention, providing support to children struggling with mental health issues will in the long term pay dividends in reducing the number of adults struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. Services need to be in place when children need it. Investing in these services will ultimately save money in terms of criminal justice and social care expenditure.”
Currently 800,000 people suffer from depression in the UK, with 1 in 10 children aged 5 to 16 suffering from a diagnosis of mental health, that means 3 children in every class.
Smith explains “Over half of all adults who are diagnosed with mental health problems have been diagnosed with these problems as children, and yet the vast proportion did not receive the support and help they needed.”
A recent Scottish Parliament enquiry into children and adolescent mental health services in Scotland found evidence that services were stretched, with children having to wait more than 18 weeks to get specialist support in many areas of the country. Christine Graham MSP states “We heard evidence that substantial damage has been done by cutting numbers of health visitors, the very people who would have noted signs that merit intervention in the under-5s. We need urgent action to help what is a vulnerable group.”