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Thousands more children and young people with mental health problems are getting help in Greater Manchester, new figures show.

This is particularly timely during Children’s Mental Health Week (1-7 February), with the latest data showing that 45% of children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition, or a total of 26,620, have been seen by an NHS-funded mental health service – compared to just 33.5% in September 2018. This upward trajectory continued throughout 2020.

Greater Manchester is bucking the trend regionally and nationally by out-performing both the North West (41.2%) and England (38.5%), as well as exceeding the national NHS target of 35%.

This comes at a time when demand is increasing with more and more young people struggling with their mental health. In 2017, a national survey carried out by NHS Digital found that one in eight young people had a diagnosable mental health condition. A follow up survey in 2020, showed one in six young people were affected.

This boost to access follows a substantial investment of approximately £74million in mental health services for children and young people since 2017. This has paid for new services and provision, including better crisis care, more help in schools, and increased support for those with eating disorders.

Professor Sandeep Ranote, Greater Manchester clinical lead for children and young people’s mental health, said:

“Many more children and young people who are facing difficulties such as depression, self-harm, or an eating disorder are now receiving the help, treatment and support they need.”

“For each and every one of these young patients, this is a real achievement and one that we should be proud of. Sadly, we know not all families have benefited from the changes made so far. We plan to make further improvements to enhance the quality and timeliness of care, as well as reducing variation between different areas of Greater Manchester.”

NHS organisations across the region are working together closely to bring about change and drive up standards. One of these changes has been the increased use of digital media – even more so since the pandemic began – and the establishment of crisis phone lines.

There will be an increasing focus on digital to consider ways to further improve access to various forms of digital media, involving schools in the conversation.

Examples of planned improvement and work already underway:

  • Further investment to pay for more mental health professionals to work in services supporting children and young people
  • By April 2021, we expect all areas will offer access to services seven days a week with 8am to 8pm coverage Monday to Friday, as well as weekends, creating more flexibility for children and young people and their families
  • A core standard offer will mean that the same minimum level of care is available in all areas of Greater Manchester. This will be in place during 2021 with individual boroughs able to go above and beyond to address specific needs in their area. The focus of this offer is to ensure timely and easy access to support, help and care for all children and young people and their families, and to reduce variations in the type of this support across the city region.
  • Pilot schemes looking at different ways of reducing the time children and young people wait before getting an appointment. By providing more choice and ensuring the NHS is working more closely with voluntary sector organisations, we can potentially provide the help someone needs before reaching a point of crisis.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said:

“In 2018, Greater Manchester was the first area of the country to publish data on access to children and young people’s mental health services. We had already embarked on a major improvement programme and committed substantial investment. So, this was about transparency, allowing people to hold us to account for all that we had promised.”

“The latest figures reflect a marked step change in how services are being used and how we view our young people’s mental health. Without the right care, mental health difficulties can have a lifelong impact. We want to give all our children and young people a great start in life and mental health is an important part of that.”

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