“Tsunami” of Mental Health Problems Coming According to Expert

One of the leading British experts on mental health believes that the UK is heading for a tsunami of adult mental health difficulties.

Prof Dame Sue Bailey, chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, believes that urgent action must be taken to assist children in contemporary society if a crisis is to be avoided.

Central to this process must be extensive spending from the government on mental health services, according to Bailey.

“I describe mental health services as a car crash waiting to happen. The government is starting to do the right thing, NHS England is pulling the money through, but there are so many factors mitigating against it succeeding that it needs a financial fuel injection, right now,” the professor commented.

Bailey believes that the so-called ‘baby boomer’ generation must do more to assist those growing up now, rather than concentrating on feathering their own nests.

And the mental health expert believes that this would rapidly resulting improved outcomes, not merely for mental health, but across a wide range of demographics.

“We’d see immediate benefits, a better transition from primary to secondary school, a better transition of children into the world of work; they’d be more robust, more resilient,” Bailey suggested.

Bailey believes that the society young people are growing up in today is unique, and that older people in a privileged position must do all that they can to assist in what is a very challenging environment.

“The pressures on young people today are very different. We do know there has been a record number of phone calls to ChildLine from children with suicidal thoughts; that 55% of headteachers are reporting large number of pupils with anxiety and distress; and that rates of admissions for self-harm are at a five-year high. I think part of trying to convince both government and my generation [to invest in mental health services] comes from understanding that actually we did have it relatively well. This is one generation being asked to think about…the needs of the younger generation”.

A recent enquiry discovered that more women aged between 16 and 24 were experiencing mental health problems that has ever been the case previously.

And Bailey believes that education is central to improving the mental well-being of young people.

“If there was more money going into schools to help children self-support around mental health problems, it would have an amazing payoff. You’d get better attainment for all children, not just the brightest, and fewer disruptive pupils. I think we’ve got a generation who feel that they are having their freedoms and opportunities taken away from them. This does require a substantive injection of funding into child mental health, for the voluntary sector, schools, community project”.

The government has announced that it will allocate a further £25 million to clinical commissioning groups across England with the aim of aiding both children and young people.

This will reportedly result in waiting times being reduced, while minimising the length of stay for in-patient care.
Bailey was keen to acknowledge this, but also believes that much more must be done.

“We have to welcome what the last two parliaments have done, which is to recognise mental health and give it parity [alongside physical health] but we need to make a complete leap with extra funding. If we don’t, we are going to have a tsunami of children with mental health problems being taken into adulthood who are less able to cope in families and in employment”.

 

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