Hidden Harms mental health conference at the University of Suffolk, Ipswich
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A national conference discussing how mental health issues affect young people and what support should be provided took place at the University of Suffolk today.
More than 140 delegates, including the UK’s leading experts and mental health charities, gathered at the university’s Waterfront base for the Hidden Harms conference, delivering a range of talks and workshops.
In Suffolk, one in five children aged five to 19 are estimated to have a mental health problem – around 25,000 youngsters in total.
The conference was designed to give professionals involved in social work, education, health and police sectors an improved understanding of how to respond appropriately and effectively to the needs of young people.
Organisations such as Self-Harm UK, B-eat, and The Marie Collins Foundation joined academics from the university in presenting their research on self-harm, bereavement, young people and virtual violence and other mental health issues.
Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “The amount of money which goes into the mental health of young people from central government is pitiful. I think it is something like 7% of the total mental health budget is for young people.
“We all know that early intervention is a far more effective way of dealing with these issues.
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“I am actually writing to the Prime Minster because I welcomed her bringing up the mental health agenda recently but we really need to put more resources into prevention rather than cure. I thank the University of Suffolk for putting this on today; it’s really welcome to have this in Suffolk.”
He added: “It’s so important regarding the safety of our children that professionals are aware of all the issues and all the facilities that are available. It is a constantly changing world and we all need to keep abreast of the changes for the safety of our children.”
Other talks focused on: eating disorders, sexual abuse via the internet and mobile technologies, self-harm, how schools provide support, and teenage anxiety and depression.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “I think we are only just waking up to the seriousness of the problem we have in families and communities across Ipswich and the country of young people’s mental health.
“I was so pleased to see the prime minister address this directly in her speech, which demonstrates the seriousness in which the government takes this issue.
“The fact is that we are going to have to be creative in how we seek to improve the mental health of young people – from understanding better how the environment for social media evolves in the future to providing the right support near home for those who have clinical mental health requirements.
“I commend this conference for the work it is doing to explore these problems and solutions that are so badly needed, and I look forward to the results of your work.”
To find out more about research at the University of Suffolk, click here.
To find out more about the university’s Impact Week, click here.