Children’s mental health services in Kent get £10m investment

A programme aimed at improving the mental health of children in Kent is set to receive £10m investment…

The Big Lottery Fund is to invest £10m in an innovative mental health programme for children. HeadStart, a five year Big Lottery Fund programme, aims to prevent thousands of young people from developing mental health problems.

The scheme has been trialled for the past two years in Kent with success. Now, Kent County Council will expand this work further.

Kent has around 125,300 young people between the ages of 10 and 16. It is estimated nearly 19,000 of this number have mild to moderate problems that could benefit from support. It is hoped this approach will reduce the number of referrals to specialist mental health treatments by giving young people the tools to cope with difficult situations in their lives.

HeadStart Kent has already helped some 22,000 young people by giving them the skills and knowledge to tackle challenges they may face. Additionally, some 650 adults across the county have been trained to help children, and 450 young people to help their friends in difficult circumstances.

Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education Roger Gough said:” We are delighted to have been awarded this money and recognised as a local authority leading the way with these innovative approaches.

“The money will make a tremendous difference to children and young people in Kent. We plan to use the £10 million to prevent potential mental health issues occurring in young people by giving them the skills to cope with life’s challenges.

“These skills should help reduce the number of referrals to specialist mental health services.

“Children and young people are central to the success of the programme. From the very start we have included young people in every part of the process; their views are taken into account when each decision is taken.

“We firmly believe this is one of the reasons HeadStart is such a success in Kent. The young people are telling us what works for them, what would or wouldn’t help them. We are listening and creating programmes tailored around them.

“Our work has also highlighted a need for further investment to help young people from families where domestic abuse is or, has been, an issue. This money will help us work more closely with these children.”

HeadStart Kent utilises schools, youth clubs, health services, the voluntary sector, and family support services to build supportive communities. The trial was undertaken across Kent and will see a new programme start in Swale and Gravesham in September. It is expected the programme will be delivered across nine districts in five years.


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