In response to a Mind survey of almost 12,000 people that found “one in three (32 per cent) young people self-harmed to cope during the last year”, Stephen Fry has called for immediate government funding into walk-in hubs for people aged 11-24 that do not require a referral.
Content warning: this article mentions self-harm.
In a statement on the Mind website, Stephen Fry discusses his own history and the stigma he has faced with his own diagnosis of bipolar. Speaking on the stigma of the past Fry emphasised the amazing work that athletes such as Simone Biles, Ben Stokes and Naomi Osaka are doing to raise awareness and make speaking out about mental health “just as you would for any other illness or injury.”
Fry then moves onto the undeniable mental health crisis that our country has been facing since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the first national lockdown in March 2020. Fry mentions “loneliness and isolation” as a major contributing factor as well as “the loss of jobs and livelihoods as a result of economic recession.”
“Mind’s research, however, has found that it is our young people who are among the hardest hit.”
Addressing the specific demographic of those aged 11-25, Fry’s observation’s and the results from Mind’s own survey confirm what has been long suspected by other longitudinal studies over the pandemic such as that by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF).
We have covered at length the various calls to increase support for young people’s mental health as we attempt to recover from the damage done by the pandemic. From the Royal College of Psychiatrists, to Barnados and as mentioned above, the MHF, calls for immediate action for specialist mental support for young people have been widespread, now, acting as Mind’s president, Stephen Fry is joining the fight.
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From the same survey that discovered increased levels of self-harm among the young, Mind also found that emergency and urgent referrals for those young people experiencing a mental health crisis had sharply risen in comparison to the same month in the previous year – this stayed at a consistent increase for three quarters of the last year.
The survey also found that a staggering 96% of participants felt that their mental health had impacted their ability to do well at school some point last year, while 68% reported a mental health related absence.
In response to this Mind, with Stephen Fry at the helm are asking the UK government to immediately invest into a:
“network of early support hubs for young people aged 11-25 across England. These hubs would provide young people with mental health support in a friendly, non-threatening, non-clinical setting when problems first emerge – before they hit crisis point.”
Fry also says this would be a solution to the thousands of young people who fall through the cracks because they are unable to get a referral through the overstretched Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS).
Many of the issues services such as CAHMS experience are delays in service users waiting for referrals, these support hubs that would work as a walk-in service, without the added element of referrals would work as an excellent preventative intervention to, as Fry said, reach young people before they hit crisis.
Fry ends his statement on Mind’s website by commenting on how the government chooses to move forward with this in regards to it upcoming Spending Review: “I urge them to prioritise the mental health of children and young people, to make sure that every young person as somewhere to turn.”