Youngsters who have spent years struggling to get adequate mental health support have demanded Rishi Sunak boosts funding for early support hubs.
The teen mental health campaigners delivered a letter to No 11 urging the Chancellor to set money aside for the centres in his Budget so provision is not “left to get worse and worse”.
Early support hubs offer young people a space to get immediate mental health support without needing an appointment.
But they are only available in some areas across the country.
Asha, 18, from York, has suffered with her mental health from the age of six and recalls being dismissed by psychologists and nurses who wouldn’t believe her.
Speaking to The Mirror they said: “From day one, it’s been hard to be believed and get help.
Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
“Almost every psychologist or mental health nurse would ignore me.
“They would dismiss me. I’ve had a lot of people mock me to my face.
“And overall the way you’re treated as a young person with mental health issues… you’re either lying or your attention seeking.
“It’s just not on because it means that you are left for your mental health to get worse and worse, which is exactly what mine did.”
They didn’t get official help until her 12th hospital referral, which is around seven years after her ill mental health started.
Asha explained some young people who are admitted to get support can find themselves being discharged without their knowledge.
“We need these hubs because once you reach crisis point, which could be a suicide it takes a lot longer to recover.”
When Rachael, 22, from East Anglia was 14 years old, she confided in her school nurse about her mental health issues.
But she was referred to a support service for over 16s as there a support network did not exist for young teenagers.
“I didn’t get any help,” she told The Mirror. “And eventually I stopped eating.
“If I had early support, I wouldn’t have had to go through all of that. And I’m really hoping that if we can fund the hubs other young people won’t have to get ill before they get better like I did.”
She explained access to mental health support services have been difficult long before Covid.
“When you go to the GP, if you’re lucky enough to get referred, you can end up waiting for months, even years to get help.”
Rachel said: “Mental health funding has been neglected for years.
“It’s about time that somebody did something before because we are in a crisis with young people’s mental health before more lives are lost.
“Something needs to be done and Rishi Sunak needs to be able to do it.”
In their letter to Mr Sunak, they wrote: “Too many young people have struggled with their mental health without support.
“Pressure, trauma, family issues, school and exam stress all take their toll.
A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to expanding and transforming mental health services in England, backed by an additional £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24, meaning an additional 345,000 children and young people per year will be able access NHS-funded services.
“To address the impacts of the pandemic, we have provided an additional £79 million through our Mental Health Recovery Action Plan to accelerate the expansion of children and young people’s mental health services including through community services.
“We are also improving the support currently available in schools, including by offering training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges and expanding mental health support teams.”
“Waiting for help can last months or even years, which can cause our mental health to decline to crisis point.
“All of this is avoidable if the Government invests in a national network of early support hubs.
“These will offer somewhere for every young person to go for their mental health without having an appointment or being on a waiting list, with one in every local area.”
It comes as 750 youth services were lost in the last decade following drastic Tory cuts.
Spending was cut by 70% in England and Wales from 2010-11 to 2018-19.
Tom Madders, Director of Campaigns at YoungMinds said, “Even before the pandemic, many young people struggled to access early mental health support in their community.
“Long waiting times and high thresholds for treatment meant that too many young people were reaching crisis because they didn’t get the help they needed when they needed it.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the pressures facing young people and we know that there has been a big rise in referrals to mental health services. Whilst the NHS is working hard to support those in need, it’s clear they are struggling to cope with this unprecedented demand.”
YoungMinds letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Right now, thousands of young people across England are not able to access early support for their mental health.
This is a crisis, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. Help comes too late, severely impacting lives and resulting in young people needing even more support.
We are young people, writing to you as campaigners and people who care about mental health. We are writing on behalf of ourselves, of others who are struggling right now and for those who sadly haven’t made it through. We understand the real impact on young people’s lives when they can’t access early mental health support and we believe we deserve better.
Too many young people have struggled with their mental health without support. Pressure, trauma, family issues, school and exam stress all take their toll. Waiting for help can last months or even years, which can cause our mental health to decline to crisis point.
When a young person struggles with their mental health, it’s not just that person that struggles – it puts huge physical and mental strain on families and friends. It’s traumatic to watch people go through this without knowing whether they will ever get the help they need. Not only can it tear families apart, but it has an economic impact on the whole of society – some of our parents have had to take time off work to support us, while some of us have missed out on our education.
All of this is avoidable if the Government invests in a national network of early support hubs. These will offer somewhere for every young person to go for their mental health without having an appointment or being on a waiting list, with one in every local area. Some of these services do exist but we need them to be centrally and consistently funded – and we need you to ensure that there is the same level of support no matter where you live.
With early intervention we don’t need to wait until young people reach crisis before they get the help they need. If young people like us have access to a hub when we first struggle, we are less likely to need support later down the line and for so long. Having hubs across the country could contribute to the prevention of so many untimely deaths, as they ensure young people get support before they reach crisis.
We need you to take action. Right now, young people need to get worse before they can access support to get better. You can change this and make a difference for hundreds and thousands of young people who are struggling with their mental health. Please invest in early support hubs now.