Labour has pledged increased mental health support for children across Norfolk, as ‘heartbreaking’ cases spiral across the country. Recent reports show levels of serious self-harm among children are higher in Norfolk than elsewhere in the country.
On Friday, the Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health, Abena Oppong-Asare MP visited the Risebrow Centre in Norwich with Labour’s parliamentary candidates for Norwich North, Alice Macdonald and Labour’s candidate for Great Yarmouth, Keir Cozens. The visit came just days after Labour launched its Child Health Action Plan, promising the healthiest and happiest generation of children ever in Britain, including specific measures to tackle the crisis in children and young people’s mental health services.
These include cutting waiting lists for mental health services by recruiting thousands more staff, introducing mental health support in every school and delivering open-access mental health hubs, like the Risebrow Centre, in every community, paid for by abolishing tax breaks for private schools.
The Risebrow Centre is run by local youth charity MAP, offering young people vital support and advice. The Labour representatives met with young people from across Broadland and Yarmouth who form part of MAPs’ youth advisory boards.
Nationally, the number of school-age children being referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) has soared with nearly half a million young people (496,897) being referred last November in England- the highest on record – and an increase from 493,434 in October 2023.
There is also a postcode lottery in waiting times for CAMHS with an average wait of 21 weeks for a first appointment and incidences where some young people remain on waiting lists for up to four years.
Abena Oppong-Asare said:
“The Risebrow Centre in Norwich is the kind of mental health hub that Labour is committed to delivering in every single community so that young people can get help for their mental health as soon as possible. Alongside this, we will provide mental health support in every school, paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.
“We won’t stand by – we will get to grips with the mental health crisis affecting far too many young people across Norfolk, offering them the support they need when they need it.”
Alice Macdonald said:
‘Children in Norwich and across Norfolk deserve better and that was what we heard loud and clear when we visited MAP. Too many children can’t access the mental health support they need and schools and teachers are being pushed to breaking point. There are brilliant organizations, such as MAP, working to support young people across our county but overall the system just isn’t working. Labour is committed to changing this with specialist mental health support in the community and in schools so every young person has access to the support they need’
Keir Cozens said:
“Our visit to MAP was both eye opening and heartbreaking. It’s not right that young people in Great Yarmouth, and right across Norfolk, are sitting on waiting lists for months before they can access the mental health support they need.
Labour’s plan is exactly what’s needed, a mental health specialist back in schools, so our young people can get the help and support they need, when they need it”.
Dan Mobbs, Chief Executive of MAP said:
We are here to provide the mental health support young people need where and when they need it. That means counselling, advice and youth work. Young people tell us it’s just too hard to get help and you have to wait too long. We’re working hard to change that and our drop-in centre is a big part of that.