by Sarah Brennan, chief executive, Young Minds
The recently published Mental Health Strategy - No Health Without Mental Health – highlights that half of adult mental health problems start before the age of 14 and has a strong focus on the critical importance of early intervention to support children and young people. Intervening early for children with mental health problems has been shown to both reduce health costs and realise larger savings over time from improved educational outcomes and reduced unemployment and crime. Helping young people to flourish and become nurturing parents for the future can in turn break cycles of inequality and child poverty running through generations of families.
As part of the government’s policy on local determination of priorities, a strengthened voice for service users and the increased role of the voluntary and community sector (VCS), the Department of Education will be providing up to £3m for a two-year sector led programme which will build the capacity of VCSOs to deliver early intervention mental health support to children and young people, including building resilience and emotional well-being. The programme will also support and sustain VCSO engagement with the system in the longer term, along with expanding choice and provision within the sector.
The BOND Consortium, led by Young Minds, believes that the VCS offers timely, flexible services which are responsive to need and are often more easily accessible than statutory services particularly to children and young people most at risk of poor mental health, such as those in BME groups, children in care, care leavers and young people in touch with the criminal justice system. However, as the government has recognised in creating this opportunity, the VCS needs help to develop its capacity without excessive burden or cost and to increase the confidence of all commissioners to invest sustainable funding in the sector.
Over 2,000 schools, 500 VCSOs and 100 commissioning NHS and LA organisations will be engaged and involved in identifying barriers and developing sustainable solutions to achieve our vision.
We will deliver a broad range of benefits including; in-depth capacity and capacity building in at least five pilot areas through a bespoke package of support aimed at strengthening the local market whilst at the same time developing local commissioning; a range of more targeted support will also be offered to black and ethnic minority organisations, school and teenager services and others delivering to the most vulnerable children and young people, helping them to become commissioning-ready through training, coaching, online forums and links to specialist websites; guidance, facilitation and training for commissioners and VCSO’s on new approaches and delivery models such as social enterprise and VCSO consortia tenders, and how to engage effectively in delivering the national mental health strategy including the increased access to psychological therapies (IAPT)
Our vision is a thriving and competitive marketplace of children and young people’s preventative and early intervention VCSO service providers, local and national, small and large, equally valued and equally able to compete for sustainable funding to provide quality assured, evidence-based services.