Last week was Children’s Mental Health week and I met with representatives from Action for Children to support their campaign to improve young people’s mental health. It was also great to see Dawn Shaw, their National Director for Northern Ireland, who I first met when I opened their Action for Children centre in Belfast during my time as a Northern Ireland Minister.
Action for Children do vital work supporting disadvantaged young people across the UK, offering the support they need when they need it. Due to Government cuts council resources, especially for children’s social care, are stretched like never before. Despite this, places like Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, which I recently visited, are doing incredible work to integrate services to make sure children get the care they need. Along with the investment that Liverpool and Knowsley are putting into children’s social care, there is a real chance of trying to improve services across settings for children, whether at Sure Start centres, schools or hospitals. There is certainly a need for this. The incidence of unmet mental health needs amongst children has been rising and Government cuts have meant that services have seen severely rationed.
The mental health of our young people has also seen a shocking decline, so initiatives like Action for Children’s #buildsoundminds campaign play an essential part in raising awareness and providing support. That’s why I’m proud to support this campaign to help improve young people’s mental and emotional wellbeing.