An investigation done by the Daily Mirror in the United Kingdom has revealed that thousands of children age 10 and under are being treated for stress, anxiety, and depression. Due to bullies, school assessments and the pressure to fit in, many students find it hard to cope.
Savage Coalition cuts to the network of support for affected youngsters means many end up needing hospital treatment because their psychological problems have spiralled out of control – piling more pressure on NHS budgets.
Figures from Britain’s biggest NHS mental health trusts found that around 4,931 children have been treated in the last five years, and the number of primary school students is likely to be higher.
However, 2/3 of local authorities have cut budgets for early intervention programs and specialists. The mental health charity Young Minds is urging the government to stop funding cuts to prevent a child psychology crisis.
Lucie Russell, the campaigns chief, said that the increase in children under 11 needing mental health services is something to worry about. She feels that the 24/7 online culture, along with school assessments and bullying, have led to the high number of children needing therapy.
“The World Health Organization estimate that by 2030 depression is going to be the biggest health problem in the Western world and so we are sitting on a ticking time bomb.”
She continued by saying that it is very important to act now by taking responsibility for the stress that is being unloaded on children.
“This means stopping yet more cuts to early intervention support services, ensuring there is more support for young people in schools who are struggling, making resilience-building a key part of the curriculum and increasing the budget for children and young people’s mental health services, which is currently only a measly 0.7% of the overall NHS budget.”
Andrew Gregory of Mirror News says that two mental health trusts that participated in the investigation admitted to seeing a combined total of 916 children for issues relating to stress, anxiety and depression in the last year.
Former Health Secretary Alan Johnson said the results were shocking and that children are not getting the support they need from the community, which leads to more problems in the future. “It is going to be to the detriment of that child’s mental health. Mental health is the poor relation of the NHS.”
Labour MP Diana Johnson says that “early intervention is key” and that symptoms need to be treated quickly to prevent children from growing up anxious and stressed.
“These are often the most vulnerable children in our society. It is essential we act to give them a future free of mental health problems.”
Some of the eliminations due to budget cuts have been social workers, educational psychologists, and parenting programs. Early intervention can give at risk children a safety net, and having someone who can identify the early warning signs of mental health risks and with therapy and counseling can keep children out of the hospital.
However, 51 councils that responded to the investigation acknowledged cutting the budget for children and adolescent mental health services.
Care Minister Norman Lab says that the government is spending money on mental health, but admitted that it was “totally unacceptable to disadvantage mental health when allocating funds,” He says that they are investing £54 million to improve access to therapy treatments for children and added, “I have always been clear mental health must be treated with equal importance as physical health.”