Struggling young people forced to wait months for NHS mental health appointment in Milton Keynes

Council grants £25k amid reliance on charities to bridge gap
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MK City Council has granted £25,000 to help a young people’s mental health charity after it been revealed that youngsters in need are waiting up to five months for an appointment through the NHS.

The Labour and Lib Dem Progressive Alliance is giving the money to YiS, which offers free counselling and wellbeing services from experts to local 11 to 21-year-olds.

The city charity has proved a lifeline to thousands of young people in MK but battles continuously with funding shortages. Earlier this year it was forced to launch a crowdfunding bid to continue its core services.

More and more young people in Milton Keynes are suffering mental health problemsMore and more young people in Milton Keynes are suffering mental health problems
More and more young people in Milton Keynes are suffering mental health problems

YiS has helped 2,500 young people in the past year alone and has seen a 42% rise in referrals to counselling during that time.

Meanwhile the Progressive Alliance is giving more cash – £50,000 – to the city’s Q:alliance, a charity that provides support, information, and representation for LGBTQ+ people of all ages.

Both grants will ensure young people will be able to access free drop-in sessions for their mental health and wellbeing without referral or appointment, say councillors

The sessions will provide young people with early help before they hit a crisis point.

Councillor Emily Darlington, Labour Cabinet member for Adults, Housing, and Healthy Communities, said: “The City Council is committed to tackling mental health inequality across the city and we’re working hard to make services for young people in Milton Keynes more accessible.

"Mental health can be a difficult point of conversation for us all and young people might find it hard to talk about their thoughts and feelings with their family or friends, this funding will ensure they have a safe space to talk to someone and seek advice.”

Lib Dem Cabinet member for Tackling Social Inequalities, Councillor Jane Carr, said: “The knock-on effects of COVID lockdowns and the cost-of-living crisis has caused a sharp rise in the number of young people seeking support.

"The lack of NHS funding from the Conservative government has caused staff shortages and soaring waiting lists, leaving some young people waiting 21 weeks for their first appointment.

"This funding will be a big help to young people in MK, but we can’t do it all - the Government needs to come up with a plan to rescue mental health services.”