A missed opportunity: Youth Access expresses disappointment at lack of mental health investment in Budget

We are extremely disappointed that the UK Government has overlooked young people’s rising mental health needs and decided not to include much-needed funding for early support hubs in today’s Budget announcement. With young people’s mental health needs continuing to rise, we are shocked with the lack of response to this growing crisis.

Youth Access has been proud to stand alongside The Children and Young People’s mental Health Coalition, Black Thrive Global, Young Minds, Mind and The Children’s Society as part of the Fund the Hubs campaign, calling for a national rollout of local ‘early support hubs’, like Youth Access YIACS, where young people can access support on a range of issues relating to mental health, up to age 25. Despite this concerted effort to highlight the importance of these community-based services, a clear message from young people and the public, and buy-in from key national bodies, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, today failed to announce any investment in these services, or any additional support for young people’s mental health.

Young people were facing the sharp edge of the ‘mental health crisis’ before Covid, and the devastation caused by the pandemic has hit young people particularly hard, with the economic and social impacts exacerbating inequalities for communities of colour, young women, LGBTQ+ young people and those already on the breadline. While the Chancellor promised this Budget would bring in an “age of optimism”, the evidence points to hard times ahead for the younger generation.

We welcome the investment in Family Hubs, which will provide well-needed support to parents and infants, giving children a better start in life. This does not, however, help to tackle the unmet needs for so many young people who are struggling alone with emerging mental health issues and novel challenges with money, work and relationships.

Young people have told us time and time again that what’s missing from the mental health system is easy-to-access support in the heart of their local community. We need to see a national investment in a network of early support hubs, like those in the Youth Access network of Youth Information Advice and Counselling Services, to finally end the postcode lottery that leaves so many young people struggling alone along the journey into adulthood.

Cassandra Harrison, CEO at Youth Access said:

“Not only is this a blow to the young people who have already taken the brunt of the Covid crisis, it is also a missed opportunity to kick start the country’s recovery.

"A national investment in early support hubs in every local area would have provided a ticket out of the longer-term impact of the pandemic for so many young people. Instead, the Government has opted to kick those issues down the road, at the expense of the public purse when those issues inevitably escalate, at the expense of the voluntary sector, who’ll be left to plug the gaps, and moreover, at the expense of those young people whose lives will suffer as a result.”

As the Government continues to work on its Mental Health Plan, Youth Access will continue to work with young people and others in the mental health and youth sectors to campaign for early support hubs as part of a mental health system that meets young people’s rights.