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Calling for a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention to support children and young people’s mental health.

On the eve of the general election, we’re reinstating our call for a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention for children and young people’s (CYP) mental health. 

With over a quarter of a million CYP waiting over a year to receive support from CAMHS, it is clear that the current system is not working. With cuts to youth services (48% fall in spending on early intervention services from 2011 to 2020) and shortcomings of NHS data meaning that many referrals are made for reasons ‘unknown’, CYP are not receiving the quality of support that they need and deserve. 

From Covid-19 to climate change to cost of living, today’s young people are bombarded with negative news, and are evermore exposed to it through social media. It therefore comes as no surprise that they are struggling. 

Our own data shows that demand for Door43 mental health and wellbeing services has steadily risen over the past two years, with the current level of overall referrals more than 30% higher than the same period in 2022. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of young people accessing counselling, with 15% more young people supported through our counselling service in 23-24.

We’re not alone in calling for this change. Anna Freud recently shared their 2024 manifesto which highlighted 5 key points for the new government to focus on: 

  1. Give young people a meaningful say in an expanded approach to prevention  
  1. Focus on communities 
  1. Adopt a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing 
  1. Widen our collective understanding of childhood trauma 
  1. Leverage the power of science and data 

We wholeheartedly support these asks. Nearly 30 years of delivering youth services in Sheffield has informed the evolution of not just our mental health and wellbeing provision, but our employability and careers work too. We know that employment and wellbeing are intrinsically linked, with poor mental health often being a key contributor to young people falling out of employment, which is why our new Mental Health Hub connects our wellbeing and employability teams under one service. We are committed to embedding youth voice throughout our work, including a drive to institute a full Youth Board, holding us accountable to young people at the very top. We’re doing more work out in the communities through social prescribing and the Mental Health Hub. Lastly, we’re developing an innovative Impact Hub on our website where we can regularly share impact data in an open, transparent way to help us collectively improve our support for young people and advocate for youth issues.