Demand for mental health support for kids 'ever increasing', warns expert
- Credit: Brittany Woodman
The city is seeing a "tsunami" of children in need of mental and emotional support as society moves out of the pandemic, experts have warned.
A new purpose-built facility was officially launched by The Wensum Trust at Arden Grove Infant and Nursery School in Hellesdon on Friday to help address the issue.
Known as The Base, the building has two classrooms, a practical area, a kitchen and calm rooms to initially cater for a group of eight children aged four to seven years with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH).
Daniel Thrower, chief executive of The Wensum Trust, said: "It does not stop now we have this lovely building.
"There is a tsunami of children coming through with mental health needs like we have never seen before.
"We need the provision to change and remodel. I think the level of need is going to be ever increasing."
Research conducted by NHS Digital 2020 showed one in six school-aged children has a mental health problem.
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And The Base is part of Norfolk County Council's £120m plans to transform special educational needs.
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who is a member of The Wensum Trust, believes the Specialist Resource Base will lead the way for other much-needed facilities to follow suit in other areas of the city.
She said: "This is not just improving lives in Norwich but blazing a trail nationally. What it is going to do is allow even more to be achieved and to put Norwich on the map in so many ways.
"These resources could not be in greater need right now as we come out of a pandemic. It will provide a fresh start for many families."
Ms Smith said more than £17m has been announced to improve mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges across the UK.
Sir Norman Lamb, former North Norfolk MP, and chairman of the Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition said: "Punishing children for what they have gone through often ends with children being excluded from school, with no qualifications or employment and there is a clear link to being sent to prison.
"The lifetime cost of this neglect is absolutely vast."