AN MP backing the Advertiser’s campaign to tackle stress and anxiety in schools has called a government budget bonus for mental health “well short of what experts say is needed”.
John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said he feared that extra funding promised by the Chancellor this week would come “too late” for many children.
Last week, the Advertiser launched its “Class Action” campaign against failing mental health in schools - demanding more help for students and teachers.
Our campaign comes after a survey by Mr Healey found more students and teachers were suffering mental health problems.
Mr Healey wants to see counsellors appointed in every school and shorter waiting times for those needing help - both of which the Advertiser is backing.
This week, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £2 billion increase in funding for the UK mental health sector over the next six years.
His plans include mental health staff in every A&E department, a dedicated mental health hotline and children’s crisis teams around the country.
Mr Healey said: “The £2b budget commitment is welcome, but well short of what experts say is needed.
“My main fear is this new money will come too late.
“My report showed we have a mental health crisis in our schools now, yet this funding is not due for five years as the Budget Red Book small print admits it won’t be in place until 2022-23.”
He added: “I am set to see the Schools Minister next month with some of our local headteachers, so we will tackle him on the deal of plans for schools mental health teams and on making funding available faster.”
Sean Duggan is chief executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation.
Responding to the budget, he said: “The scale of the challenge the sector faces cannot be underestimated - a five per cent annual increase in the mental health budget is absolutely necessary in order to achieve true parity with physical health.
“It is positive to see that specialist crisis teams for children and younger people will be set up in every part of the country, as we know how important it is to address mental illness as early as possible.
“However, we must keep our eyes on the immediate needs of our core inpatient and community mental health services.
“We must also remember that social care, capital budgets and public health will need additional funding.”