YoungMinds, Mind, Youth Access, the Children and Young People’s Coalition on Mental Health, Centre for Mental Health and The Children’s Society have today (8th June 2021) joined forces to launch a campaign, Fund The Hubs, calling for better access to early mental health support through a network of early support hubs for young people.
There is growing evidence of the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health and that demand for mental health support is growing.
- Only just over a third of young people (37%) with a diagnosable mental health condition are able to access NHS support. 
- A 2021 report by the Children’s Commissioner showed that referrals have increased at a higher rate than the increase in young people able to access services, and that just 20% of children and young people referred to services started treatment within 4 weeks. 
- A survey of 35 NHS Trust leaders in May 2021 revealed that there are rising numbers of children and young people presenting at A&E having self-harmed or experienced suicidal thoughts, one trust leader said they had seen an increase of up to 50%.
- NHS waiting times data revealed that referrals were 72% higher in September 2020 than they were in September 2019.
- Research by The Mix in March 2021 showed that 34% of young people who have self-harmed in the last 12 months said their tendency to self-harm has increased due to the pandemic.
The barriers facing young people when they first need support for their mental health remain, with research throughout the pandemic revealing that many are reluctant to seek support because of stigma, the challenges of accessing support and previous experience of long waiting times.
This has led to a call for a national network of early support hubs across England in order to reduce the barriers young people face when accessing treatment, ease the pressure on services and prevent young people from reaching crisis before they get support. Early support hubs already exist in some areas, the campaign aims to build on these successful examples and ensure they have consistent, long-term funding.
They provide easy to access, local support for young people, without the need for a referral or an appointment. They offer psychological therapies as well as advice and guidance on other issues impacting young people’s lives, for example housing and employment.
Early support hubs have been shown to be highly beneficial for young people, both internationally and in the UK. Research also shows that young people find these services accessible, especially for those from marginalised communities, and that advice can be a cost effective intervention for mental health issues.
“When a young person isn’t able to access support early enough for their mental health, things often get much worse. For years we have heard of children and young people reaching crisis, starting to self-harm or refusing to go to school before they get the help they need. There have been improvements to mental health support in recent years, but with the unprecedented difficulties that so many have faced as a result of the pandemic, it’s clear that there is an urgent need for more action. What we need is a system of support outside of NHS services, where young people can get help locally without needing to wait or reach a threshold for treatment.
“That is why we are joining forces to call for a network of early support hubs. Not only to ease the pressure on the NHS and prevent young people needing more specialist treatment in the future, but also because they will send a clear message to young people that no matter what they are going through, their mental health matters.”
“Young people have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic, especially those who have pre-existing mental health problems. Over the past year, young people have had to deal with a huge amount of challenges, change and disruption to their daily lives, including partial school closures, loneliness and isolation; and difficulties accessing mental health services.
“We’re pleased to be collaborating with YoungMinds and other charity partners to support the Fund the Hubs campaign to make sure there is better access to early mental health support for young people. Investing in easily accessible community support for young people should be the UK Government’s priority. Making this support available early on can decrease the chances that a young person will reach crisis point and require more intensive support. Investing in hubs could help all young people experiencing mental health problems to succeed at school and reach their full potential as they transition into adulthood.”
“For young people navigating the journey into adulthood – particularly in the fallout from Covid – the route is littered with novel challenges that can impact, and be impacted by, their mental health. Those who take the brave step to reach out for support are tired of being told they are ‘not sick enough’ to access specialist services. They want and deserve to be offered early support to tackle these issues and stay on track.
“Youth Access members already offer local, easy-to-access services, tailored to the diverse needs of young people, and are proven to be a lifeline for those who can’t get that support elsewhere. But too often these services are stretched and underfunded.
“We are proud to join forces with others through Fund the Hubs to work towards a system where these services have the resource they need so that every young person knows they have this vital lifeline right on their high street.”
“The Children’s Society’s research has demonstrated that in many areas, a lack of services, long waiting times, and high thresholds can all conspire to make life very difficult for children and young people who have a mental health difficulty. To better support these young people, we run drop-in mental health and well-being hubs where children and young people can come in, have chat with one of our trained team and tell them what’s on their mind, as well as accessing self-help tools. In many cases these children wouldn’t be seen as unwell enough to get help from CAMHS, or would have to wait for many months before they can get help. But where these services exist, we’re able to work with them from day one. Every child should be able to access help with their mental health, feelings or troubling thoughts straight away and that’s more vital now than ever.”
“For too long, children and young people have struggled to access the support they need with their mental health. The lack of support means that too many young people only receive support when they reach crisis point and require urgent care. As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now more important than ever that children and young people are able to access mental health support at an early stage, without having to wait for an appointment or being turned away.
That’s why a network of early support hubs is so crucial. These hubs will ensure that children and young people are able to get the support they need, in a way that suits them and at a time that is right for them.
We are proud to be a part of this campaign. Children and young people have long been saying they want a different approach to mental health support. It is now time that we listen and make early support hubs a reality.”
The #FundTheHubs campaign will ask the Government to invest in early support hubs by the Autumn spending review. The funding should be in addition to further investment in youth services, specialist support in mental health services and better support in schools.
- NHS Mental Health Dashboard Q2 2020/21.
- The Children’s Commissioner January 2021 report: The state of children’s mental health services 2020/21
- NHS Providers May 2021 survey: Children and young people’s mental health services survey
- NHS Digital October 2020 FOI request: Waiting times for children and young people's mental health services, 2019 -20
- The Mix research March 2021: Self-harm among young people has got worse during lockdown
- YoungMinds research February 2021: Impact of the pandemic on young people with mental health needs
YoungMinds are leading the movement to make sure every young person gets the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what.
Any parent or carer worried about the mental health of a young person under 25 can contact our free Parents Helpline via email, webchat or by calling 0808 802 5544.