Matt Hancock vows to address 'significant' mental health impact of lockdown

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Cov

Health secretary Matt Hancock during Friday's media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). - Credit: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire

The health secretary has pledged to support those whose mental health has taken a hit due to lockdown – focussing especially on helping children and young people as they head back to school from next week.

Matt Hancock spoke of the "incredibly important challenge" facing mental health services as a result of measures taken by the government to fight Covid-19 at a Downing Street press conference on Friday.

Responding to a question from a member of the public, he said it was "clear that the measures we've had to take in the last year – lockdowns – have had a significant impact on some people", and gave details of the government's three-pronged approach to tackle the issue.

He said: "The first is to support those who are currently working very hard to deliver mental health services, and in particular we have seen a rise in presentations of serious mental ill health.

"And making sure our mental health teams have the resources to respond to those cases in a timely fashion is incredibly important.

"The second is to expand the number of people who can get access to mental health services to support those who may have a challenge with their mental health which can be addressed through services like talking therapies and other online services, which we have expanded massively during the pandemic.

"The third is something we've announced further funding for today – an extra £79m to support children and young people's mental health, especially as they go back to school. This will be through support workers who link schools with local mental health services.

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"We've put in the extra money to make sure there is that link between children and young people who have challenges with their mental health who present at school, and making sure services are accessible to them."

It comes after young people in Norfolk expressed their concerns earlier this week ahead of the return to classrooms from March 8.

While many pupils are excited to see an end to home schooling and spend time with classmates, many are also concerned that they could still catch and spread the virus.

And, last month representatives from various Youth Advisory Boards in Norfolk took part in the EDP's Open Up event, where they discussed Covid-19's impact on young people in the county.