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Mental health stigma campaign starts

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A campaign to reduce the stigma around mental health in children has been launched by the government.

It will use school visits and social media to urge young people and parents to talk more about mental health.

Health Minister Alistair Burt said the campaign was "the largest ever" and would include an online hub of mental health information.

Charities welcomed the move, but criticised a delay to a new survey of child mental health.

The Time to Change charity says three children in every classroom experience mental health problems ranging from self-harming to eating disorders.

Online answers

The campaign will also see the launch of the Youth Mental Health Hub website to help children find accurate information about mental health conditions.

Mr Burt will say in a speech later: "This is something that young people have asked for - better information about mental health, tailored specifically for them, online."

He will add the campaign marks the "biggest transformation to young people's mental health and one of the greatest investments the sector has seen".

Meanwhile, the first survey of young people's mental health since 2004 has been commissioned.

Nearly 10,000 people aged from two to 19 and their families will be interviewed to assess the prevalence of mental health issues.

'Generation for change'

Sue Baker, the director of Time to Change, said: "Young people have told us that stigma is life-limiting, it affects friendships and school life, and for a quarter it even makes them want to give up on life.

"This has to be the generation for change."

The charity YoungMinds said it was "very pleased" by the announcement.

However, its chief executive, Sarah Brennan, said the long wait for the survey results would be a major barrier to improving care.

She said: "The news of the much awaited children and young people's national prevalence survey is also welcomed, though we are disappointed that the results will not be available until 2018.

"It is universally agreed by all who care about the mental health of children and young people that lack of data is a major block to effective prevention, early intervention and treatment."

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