NHS faces huge challenges to boost 'unacceptable' mental health provision for young people

Ben White/UnsplashMany teenagers now face a summer of studying for retakes

The Government faces huge challenges in delivering on its promise to ensure more young people have access to mental health services, The Children's Society has warned.

The charity has given a cautious welcome to the new 10-year plan for the NHS launched on Monday that includes additional funding to expand mental health services for young people. 

The funding boost comes after years of accusations that the vast majority of under-18s needing mental health care are unable to access the services they need.

Matthew Reed, chief executive at The Children's Society, said current levels of mental health provision for young people were 'unacceptable'. 

'Too many children and young people are being let down and left to face mental health problems alone, and this unacceptable situation has to be one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS,' he said. 

He welcomed the introduction of waiting time targets and the promise to provide support through to the age of 25, saying that young people were 'often especially vulnerable at this time in their lives and a disruptive move to adult services can be really difficult'.

However, he questioned the timeline to provide in-school support by 2023, saying: 'A quicker way of achieving this would be to offer access to a counsellor in all secondary schools. There is also very little detail about how improved crisis support will be rolled out.'

He added: 'The plan is hugely ambitious, but there will be big challenges in making it a reality amid cuts to children's social care, chronic staff shortages and making sure money reaches the frontline.

'Unless we overcome these challenges we risk failing a generation of children and young people.'