Press Release: YoungMinds awarded £2.5 million to expand national advisory panel Very Important Kids

YoungMinds, the children’s leading mental health charity, has received £2.5 million from the Big Lottery Fund’s Young People’s Fund 2 (YPF2) National Grants programme to ensure 2,700 children and young people contribute to mental health policy by 2013.

The new funding will expand YoungMinds Very Important Kids (VIK) group, the first and only national panel which provides a voice to 15 young people with mental health problems. Nine new regional officers and VIK members will reach out to 2,700 young people nationally over the course of the project, will offer training in participation to young people and professionals across the regions, and facilitate advocacy for group members needing to access support. The regional officers will also raise awareness of young people’s issues and concerns, will consult with services and make recommendations to promote best practice in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds said: “This funding will be an enormous boost to our participation work. The group’s work has already resulted in extraordinary change to the Mental Health Act ensuring young people under 18 who need to be admitted to hospital will be treated in an environment which meets their needs. This four year grant will enable us to continue this work and ensure young peoples voices are heard in all areas of mental health policy. We can now support the development of a network of children and young people’s participation in CAMHS across the country. 

“Involving young people in service design, in professionals training as well as their own treatment means we can increase the efficacy of our services as well as developing young people’s self esteem and empowerment. If we want to improve children’s mental health services we need to ask young people what it is that will help them.  It is no longer good enough for professionals and policy makers to presume they know what young people need.”

Sanjay Dighe, Big Lottery Fund Chair of England Committee, said: “We are delighted that BIG is able to support the development of the Very Important Kids National Panel (VIK) with over £2.5m through the YPF2 National Grants programme. The four-year project has strong plans to help young people to increase the public’s awareness and understanding of the mental health issues that many young people face.”

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