Jeremy Corbyn vows £845m boost for children battling mental health problems if elected
Labour would ensure every child has access to mental health support at school if the party wins the general election, Jeremy Corbyn has announced.
The Labour leader promised his government would "start treating mental health as seriously as physical health" as he outlined plans for an £845million-a-year Healthy Young Minds fund to help the one in eight children suffering from a mental health disorder.
The party is vowing to recruit a qualified counsellor for each of England's 3,500 secondary schools, with a network of drop-in hubs providing further support for kids who are struggling.
The Mirror reports that the hubs will be set up in every local authority in a bid to ensure nationwide coverage for state school children.
Mr Corbyn told the paper: "Our society is fuelling mental illness on a huge scale and our young people are not getting the support they need.
"We have to start treating mental health as seriously as physical health."
The vow comes amid signs of increasing strain on child and mental health service (CAMS) appointments in England.
Figures obtained by the mental health charity Mind reveal that there were 175,094 cancelled appointments between August 2018 and July 2019 - a 25% year-on-year rise.
Although under-18s can cancel appointments themselves, the charity said one in 27 of the appointments had been axed by the NHS provider.
Vicki Nash, Mind's head of policy and campaigns said: "No young person should have to worry about whether their next appointment will happen. Once someone enters the mental health system they deserve timely and consistent support that gives them the best possible chance of recovery.
"It is deeply concerning that the number of cancelled appointments continues to rise, even in proportion to the increase in appointments. As demand grows under-supported staff are leaving in droves, and this can impact the gaps between appointments and chances of cancellation."
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: "The next Labour government will ensure mental health services are given greater priority than ever."
Earlier this year ministers unveiled a £2.3bn boost to NHS mental health services in a bid to ensure round-the-clock care.
The Government said the cash injection would support 350,000 more young people and an extra 380,000 adults.
LIB DEM SKILLS VOW
The Labour election pledge came as the Liberal Democrats set out their latest bid to woo voters by offering a £10,000 “skills wallet” for every adult in England to put towards their education.
The party said each adult would be given a grant over 30 years to help them meet the cost of academic and vocational courses, with the ability to top up the fund from their own savings if needed.
It is promising to find the policy by reversing cuts to corporation tax and restoring it to its 2016 level of 20%.
Lib Dem business spokesperson Sam Gyimah said the plan would “empower people to develop new skills so that they can thrive in the technologies and industries that are key to the UK's economic future and prosperity”.