Our new programme to support adolescent mental health
Adolescent mental health is a major issue for the UK, with one in eight children and young people experiencing a diagnosed condition.
The risk factors associated with living in inner-cities – areas that are densely populated, with a rich ethnic and social mix, and where poverty and affluence sit side by side – appear to amplify the risk of poor mental health.
Without intervention or support, mental health conditions, especially those considered more severe, can have long-term impacts on young people’s life chances as well as a high cost to society. Children and young people with behavioural disorders are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health in adulthood, to be on the child protection register, to be excluded from school or to leave school with no qualifications, to be unemployed, to be dependent on drugs and to be involved in crime.
Children and young people from families on low incomes are almost four times as likely to have a behavioural disorder and more than twice as likely to have an emotional disorder than those from families on higher incomes. As we have seen across our programmes, inequality is a key determinant of mental as well as physical health.
9.8% of children and young people in Lambeth and Southwark have a diagnosable mental health condition, compared to 9.3% in London and 9.2% in England.
The mental health of young people is an issue that requires a significant investment in time, money and resource. We are launching a new ten-year programme to explore the role we can play in tackling poor mental health and improving life chances for those most at risk both in our boroughs and beyond.
We are commissioning a series of research projects to help us understand the issue of adolescent mental health better and where we should focus our programme. We are testing our early hypothesis that behavioural disorders should be a priority because of the significant and long-term impacts they have on life chances. We know that the limited resources in existing mental health services for young people tend not to focus on behavioural disorders. And an initial investigation suggests that behavioural disorders may be more prevalent in our boroughs than the currently available data indicates.
This research phase includes:
We are currently in the exploratory phase, collecting qualitative and quantitative data to identify the unique role we can play in addressing the issue. We plan to start developing the programme in the autumn – commissioning projects to test and learn how we can make the biggest impact. When we have gathered enough evidence to guide our delivery phase, we will support a portfolio of diverse projects to drive lasting change in our boroughs and to identify insights that will be relevant for other cities in the UK and internationally.
At the moment we are not inviting ideas, but if you have insights that could help shape our new programme, please contact Tamsyn Roberts. Stay in touch with the latest developments on this page, on social media and through our e-newsletter.
Tamsyn leads our new ten-year programme to support adolescent mental health in inner-city areas.See Tamsyn's full profile
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