It urged Sadiq Khan to call on the Government to increase overall funding for mental health to ensure mental health of young Londoners is adequately resourced in the recovery. They also want the Mayor to evaluate the provision of mental health services in schools across London and draw up an action plan to “secure funding for schools to commission mental health services”.
It follows a survey conducted by The London Assembly Health Committee of more than 300 young Londoners in January in which 85 per cent of respondents said the pandemic had “made them feel down or very down”.
The survey focused especially on the mental health impacts on young people from lower income homes, young carers and young people with disabilities, which Public Health England has admitted are “under-researched” groups.
There are more than 800,000 children living in poverty in London, over 70,000 young carers and at least 200,000 young people living with some level of disability.
A spokesperson for the London Assembly Health Committee said: “Our research has shown that young people are struggling to know who to turn to for mental health support, sometimes due to embarrassment and sometimes because they feel their problems don’t matter.
“That is why raising awareness is so important and why we applaud the Evening Standard for drawing attention to children’s mental health needs in their Young London SOS campaign.”
The cross-party Health Committee said that the Mayor – “who has a statutory responsibility to address health inequalities” – should involve young people in the decision making, make getting help easier and ensure those hit hardest by the pandemic are not left behind.
They said the Mayor needed to back up his words with detailed plans – calling for “more focus” on young people’s mental health as it hits “crunch point” in the pandemic. The Mayor has a duty to “pave the way” for young people’s mental health recovery from Covid-19, they added.
Dr Onkar Sahota, chair of the London Assembly Health Committee, said: “Over 300 young people shared their experiences with us and they did not hold back. People were concerned about decisions being made without their input, felt out of control and did not think they could get help.
“Whilst primary responsibility for mental health services lies with the Government, there are real, concrete steps that the Mayor can take to help support young people during this time. That is why our plan has three clear principles to consult young people on what they need from London’s Covid-19 recovery, make getting help easier, and ensure no-one is left behind.
“The Mayor can pave the way to make young people’s mental health and wellbeing a priority in London’s COVID-19 plans.”
“He recently invested £70,000 to expand ‘Good Thinking’, an online mental wellbeing service that supports young people.
“He is also providing mental health support through his Young Londoners Fund. In addition, as chair of the London Health Board, he has asked for a focus at the next meeting on mental health services for young Londoners.
“Sadiq is planning for a recovery that puts a focus on improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people, but even before this pandemic, mental health support for young people was in crisis.
“This makes it all the more important that the Government steps up to the mark and increases overall funding for mental health to ensure no young person is left behind.”