Thousands of children and young people will receive earlier mental health treatment in a move to help save lives and ensure fewer youngsters reach crisis point, through ‘Early Support Hubs’ across the country.
The government is making nearly £5 million available to provide earlier, open-access mental health intervention at ten hubs in community locations.
The drop-in centres offer mental health support and advice to local young people who won’t need a referral by a doctor or school. They won’t even need an appointment. Services provided include group work, counselling, psychological therapies, specialist advice, and signposting to information and other services.
Around 50% of mental health conditions are established by the time a child reaches the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 24. However, access to early support can prevent infants, children and young adults from developing enduring conditions that can have devastating long-term impacts on their lives and life chances, as well as the lives of their loved ones.
Mental Health Minister Maria Caulfield said:
To parents across the nation – I want to assure you we’re working to get your children that vital early support. Our funding will help hubs to hire counsellors, youth workers and other local experts. It comes on top of an extra £2.3 billion a year to transform NHS mental health services and help millions of people.
I’d like to thank Dr Alex George and campaigners for their efforts highlighting the importance of early intervention in mental health. This funding can help to avoid tragic waits and save lives.
The hubs are open to those aged 11-25 years old, and importantly they are for anyone who may not meet the threshold to receive NHS support. Youngsters going through the trauma of worry, anxiety or stress will have a physical space to go to when their problems first emerge.
A network of roughly sixty Early Support Hubs currently exists across the country. They are run by a range of local services including volunteer organisations, local NHS Trusts, and local authorities.
The £4.92 million will enable ten existing hubs to expand their current services locally and employ new staff like counsellors or youth workers. The ten hubs benefitting from the funding will be announced in due course.
The government’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr Alex George said:
Early intervention in mental health is paramount, and today’s announcement of additional funding for Early Support Hubs across the country is a milestone to be celebrated.
No child or young person experiencing trauma should reach crisis point, and nobody should endure the enormous tragedy of losing a loved one to mental illness. We have to make sure the support is there as early as possible.
That is why I will keep working with the government to ensure every child and young adult knows they have somewhere to go when they feel lost, overwhelmed, or down.
Early Support Hubs also offer advice on wider issues which may affect a young person’s mental health, including sexual health, exam worries, jobs, drugs, alcohol and financial worries.
Alongside the pilots, an evaluation of how the funding has benefited local children and young people will be conducted by the government. This will ensure our young people are receiving the best possible care and also further strengthen the evidence base for early intervention and prevention support.
Fund the Hubs campaign group, comprising The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Black Thrive Global, Centre for Mental Health, The Children’s Society, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, Mind, Youth Access, and YoungMinds, said:
The government’s announcement to provide additional support for ten existing early support hubs recognises the vital role these community services play in bringing mental health support and advice to young people.
With now over a million referrals to children and young people’s mental health services every year, we know that services are struggling to keep up with demand. Early intervention services are desperately needed across the country and will make a huge difference to many young people who are struggling with their mental health.
Tens of thousands of young people have fought hard to fund the hubs. These spaces will mean that young people can get support for their mental health as soon as they need it, rather than waiting months and sometimes years for help. In the context young people are navigating, this additional funding for services is worth celebrating. We welcome this step in the right direction and hope that more hubs will be funded in the future, so every young person in every community can access the support they provide”.
The government say vital progress is being made to support more children and young people with their mental health, regardless of background or location, with investment in NHS mental health services continuing to increase each year from almost £11 billion in 2015/16 to almost £16 billion in 2022/23.
An additional £2.3 billion of funding a year by March 2024 is being used to expand and transform services, so an extra two million people can get mental health support. This includes an extra 345,000 children and young people who will be able to access NHS-funded mental health support.
Support in school is also important, which is why the government say they are continuing to roll-out mental health support teams to schools and colleges in England. There are currently around 400 mental health support teams in place across England, covering over 3 million children or around 35% of pupils in schools and colleges, and we’re extending coverage to at least 50% of pupils in England by the end of March 2025.