1 in 4 of us will develop a mental health problem at some point in our lives - and 75% of these conditions develop by the age of 18. If people don’t get the support they need in childhood and adolescence it can have an impact on the rest of their lives.
And in today’s budget, Liberal Democrats are acting decisively to make sure the best possible support is available, with £1.25bn of new investment in young people’s mental health services, and a clear blue print for delivering the transformation needed.
If we want to build a fairer society, where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full potential in life, we must ensure that young people with mental health problems get the help and support they need.
There are some really good mental health services for young people around the country. But too often these services are fragmented and under-resourced, and young people are simply not getting help when they need it. A complete overhaul is long overdue.
Last year, I set up a Task Force to look at how we can link up mental health services with other advice services in the community, making it easier - and less daunting - for young people to seek help, and making sure they get the right support when they ask for it.
The task force brought together clinicians, counsellors, and mental health experts - but also, crucially, young people themselves with experience of mental health problems. The charity Young Minds helped us work with young people to understand the problems they have faced getting help, and their priorities for change.
We also looked at innovative models of support in other parts of the world. In Australia, the “Headspace” service provides a fantastic one-stop advice service covering mental health, relationships, and career help for young people - all in a friendly and un-daunting setting. Young people can seek help online, and don’t need to get a referral via their GP.
Yesterday, the Task Force published its report setting out a blue print for the future of young people’s mental health services. It is a genuinely groundbreaking set of proposals - backed up by a massive £1.25bn investment across the next Parliament. This is only happening because of Liberal Democrats in government.
We are going to boost mental health support with better access to therapy sessions, including group support, bringing services into the community through local cafes and youth centres, and improve the help that young people can access via websites and apps. We will also make sure services are better linked into the fantastic charities already providing support for young people. And evidence gathering will be much more rigorous, so we can see clearly what works, and what doesn’t. You can read the full report here.
As Liberal Democrats we now need to make sure that the plan is implemented in full after May. Hundreds of thousands of young people’s futures are at stake - we cannot afford to fail them. But by delivering on the promise of this report we will be taking a great stride forwards in our work to build a fairer society.