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05 December 2014

Experts unite to tackle youth mental health issues

Experts unite to tackle youth mental health issues

XLP's Patrick Regan

Leading experts and policy makers converged at a key conference this week to address failures in the current youth mental health service.

Co-hosted by urban youth charity XLP and the leading social policy think tank Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the conference was attended by prominent policy makers, including Health Minister, Norman Lamb MP, mental health practitioners, youth workers and young people.

Chaired by ITV's Nina Hossain, the conference, titled: Tackling Youth Mental Health, explored measures to address failures in the existing battle against mental illness, as well as the connection with issues such as family breakdown, education failure, violence and crime.

Chief executive officer of Alliance member XLP, Patrick Regan OBE, said: "The youth in our urban communities already have many difficulties to cope with. With young people from low income households being three times more likely to experience mental health issues, it is vital that we find a way to create productive partnerships with schools and other youth services to address this inadequacy. Young people should be enabled to access help early and easily before these issues have escalated into a crisis."

"The current mental health service model is failing to give vulnerable young people the support they need," added Norman Lamb MP.

Dr Samantha Callan, the CSJ's Associate Director for Families and Mental Health, who spoke at the event, said: "Mental illness is one of the great challenges of our age. This crucial conference is intended to highlight and address shortcomings in our approach to youth mental health."

The conference sought to explore and identify solutions to important questions in the mental health debate. This included what the term 'mental health' actually means, how mental health issues impact young people growing up in inner cities and what the relationship is between mental health issues and family breakdown, educational failure, violence and crime.

The conference looked at existing failures in the UK mental health system for young people, the best approach to providing support for the children of parents with poor mental health and effective strategies to tackle the stigma attached to mental health issues among young people.

Founded in 1996, XLP has grown from working in a single school to operating in over 60 schools and communities across Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Islington and Camden. Today, XLP has projects working with over 1,800 young people one-to-one and in small groups each week and engages with over 12,000 each year.