Minister's kids mental health pledge

CHILDREN'S minister Margaret Hodge today promised to improve mental health services for young people.Her pledge came just days after The Evening Star highlighted the problems faced by the health service in Suffolk in dealing with young people who have mental health problems.

CHILDREN'S minister Margaret Hodge today promised to improve mental health services for young people.

Her pledge came just days after The Evening Star highlighted the problems faced by the health service in Suffolk in dealing with young people who have mental health problems.

Mrs Hodge said: "It is a fact that one in ten children will need the support of mental health services – and more needs to be done there.

"When we came into power there were almost no resources for this service – since 1997 we have increased the amount spent on children's mental health by about 10 per cent a year.

"However what is needed most of all is more trained people to work in this area – there's no point in just spending more and more money if there are not enough trained professionals to work in the sector.

"We are increasing the numbers training in these services and hopefully that will make a difference in the longer term."

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Mrs Hodge took a copy of last Friday's Star to read about the particular problems faced by children's mental health services in Ipswich.

She was in the town today to officially open the Infobar One-Stop Shop set up by Suffolk Connexions at Fore Street in Ipswich.

During her visit there she met some of the young people who run and use the Infobar. It is managed by a committee of youngsters.

Mrs Hodge said: "These kind of centres are being opened all over the country – and they are very important for young people.

"They offer advice and information on a wide range of subjects, it is very important that they are in the centres of the community so people can come in whenever they want."

Teenager Jonathan Coleman is on the management committee of the Infobar. The Suffolk College student, from Sproughton Road in Ipswich, said: "I come along here whenever I'm needed and when I can.

"We chose the furniture and the decoration of the Infobar – and we helped interview the staff who work here.

"It's very useful – somewhere lots of people can come to."

Do you think enough is being spent on children's mental health issues? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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