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Children’s Mental Health Week: City MP pays tribute to ‘fantastic’ local charity for young people

Stephen Morgan MP has paid tribute to local charity ‘Off the Record’, which provides counselling services for 11–16-year-olds in Portsmouth, as the city marks Children’s Mental Health Week.

Children’s Mental Health Week aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health, with this year’s focus on ‘growing together’.

Off the Record (OTR) offers 1 Clinical Intake Assessment plus 6 weekly 1-2-1 counselling sessions, which are delivered via a choice of face-to-face in person at the OTR centre in Leigh Park, or online via Zoom or over the phone. While on the waiting list young people receive weekly check-in calls from its teams of volunteer support workers.

However, according to the latest Children’s Commissioner report, children’s access to specialist NHS mental health services in England remains a ‘postcode lottery’, with huge differences in spending and referrals depending on where families happen to live.

State of Child Health has also said that in England, a quarter of 11–16-year-olds, and nearly half of 17–19-year-olds, with a mental disorder have self-harmed or attempted suicide at some point in their short lives.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Off the Record is doing a tremendous job for our city in providing services that are desperately needed locally. I’m hugely grateful for their efforts and pleased to be able to see first-hand how they are developing services in our city again, as we mark Children’s Mental Health Week.

“But across the country, it is a postcode lottery when it comes to children’s mental health services and many areas are not fortunate enough to have places like Off the Record that help to paper over the cracks.

“Urgent intervention is needed. Labour’s plan will have a counsellor in every school, create mental health access hubs in our communities, and recruit 8,500 new mental health staff. I continue to fight in Westminster for the mental services our next generation deserves.”