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Evening Standard and Place2Be combat mental health crisis among young people

Figures show that 500,000 previously healthy children will require mental health support due to the pandemic.

The new campaign ‘Young London SOS’ will see the London paper and Place2Be, the UK’s leading provider of school-based mental health services, come together to address the rising child and adolescent mental health crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent Evening Standard investigation, published last week, uncovered troubling figures from the Centre for Mental Health showing that 500,000 previously healthy children will require mental health support due to the pandemic. The investigations team has spoken with students, parents, counsellors, headteachers and mental health experts to shine a light on what some are calling the ‘hidden mental health crisis of the Covid generation.’

The investigation also revealed a 109% rise in reported incidents of self-harm and a 68% rise in suicidal thoughts in secondary school pupils during the 2020 autumn term. The new figures come on top of an already growing crisis with one in six children experiencing a serious mental disorder according to the NHS, up from one in nine, and headteachers reporting the situation is “the worst it’s been – and likely to get even worse.”

The funds raised by Young London SOS will enable charity partner Place2Be to continue and expand its vital work, taking action against this invisible enemy by providing specialist mental health counselling support to those in need. The Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund, set up in 2010 to help grassroots charities tackle poverty, inequality and exclusion across the Capital, has donated the first £33k to Young London SOS.

Every £100 donated will deliver a whole school service to a vulnerable child for a year while £33,000 will cover a whole school service. Each Place2Be partner school receives a qualified professional who runs their service (which has been operating remotely during the National Lockdowns), which includes weekly one-to-one counselling for pupils with the most urgent or complex needs; a Place2Talk lunch-time referral service which any child in the school can access; group work; training for teachers; support for parents.

Emily Sheffield, editor, Evening Standard, said: “The Evening Standard is delighted to partner with Place2Be for our new appeal, Young London SOS. Every penny raised during this appeal will help them to tackle the growing mental health crisis in our schools as a result of the pandemic. The time for action is now – we thank you for your support.”

David Cohen, investigations and campaigns editor, Evening Standard, added: “Our investigation has revealed half a million children now need support who had no diagnosed mental health problem before the pandemic. As the country continues its fight against COVID-19, we must tackle this rising issue now. It is a great privilege for us all to be able to support brilliant charities like Place2Be as they work to make the future that bit brighter.”


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