Mental Health Foundation highlights the importance of children’s mental health with #MindsMatter

8 March 2016

As the Friends of the Foundation host a gala dinner to raise much needed funds for the Mental Health Foundation’s work with children and young people, a preventative approach to mental health problems in childhood has never been more needed. 

Evidence shows that most mental health problems begin in childhood. Tackling mental health problems early is crucial. It has the potential to change the course of a child’s life, from improved life outcomes including educational attainment, employment opportunities and physical health to reductions in the levels of substance misuse, self-harm and suicide. 

In London alone, there are enough under 16s with a mental health condition to fill 3,700 classrooms, but only around one in four young people are accessing support. Just this week the BBC reported that some mental health trusts in England have seeing "no significant investment" in psychiatric services for children despite government plans to overhaul provision. To tackle this epidemic, we will need new and innovative approaches to be identified and rolled-out nationally.

The #MindsMatter peer education pilot project co-produces a mental health curriculum with young people which is then delivered by Year 12 pupils to younger pupils in Year 7. One of the pupils commented on the pilot:

"I had…never really realised the importance of maintaining good mental health. I now think that this is a fundamental issue that must be encountered at a younger age, year 7, in order to stop the stigma that surrounds it and stops people from getting help."

Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said: 

"This week's news that funding is not reaching children's mental health services further illustrates the need for a more consistent approach to tackling the rise in young people's mental health problems. By identifying innovative approaches and proving their effectiveness, we can build a solid evidence base, laying the foundations for them to be rolled out more widely.

"#MindsMatter is a ground-breaking pilot; an opportunity for students to discuss and understand mental health issues in a safe forum. The programme develops life skills which increase resilience to mental health problems. Schools are uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of the prevention revolution, equipping students with the knowledge essential to supporting their mental and emotional wellbeing."