children counsellingA new website that aims to give adults the knowledge and confidence to identify and understand children and young people with mental health issues, has been launched with the backing of charity YoungMinds, the National Children's Bureau (NCB) and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPSych).

A survey by the RCPSych, commissioned to mark the launch of MindEd (www.minded.org.uk), found that more than a third of adults are unsure of the signs of depression in children.

More than half of adults also lack the confidence to approach a child, or a parent of a child, that they suspect to have a mental health problem, in case they are mistaken.

RCPsych president, Professor Sue Bailey, said: "There has been a large increase in young people’s mental health problems in the last 25 years. One in 10 children and young people have a diagnosable mental disorder, which is equivalent to three children in every classroom. And half of all diagnosable mental health problems start before the age of 14.

"Identifying these problems and providing the right support at an early stage should be a priority. I believe the MindEd website will be an invaluable resource for everyone who works with children and young people, and will truly support the development of young healthy minds."

The MindEd website is funded by the Department of Health, and has been developed by a Consortium of seven organisations, including the RCPsych.

The portal will aim to provide practical e-learning sessions when and wherever they’re needed, quickly building knowledge and confidence to identify an issue, act swiftly and improve outcomes for children and young people.

It also has the support of YoungMinds, whose chief executive, Sarah Brennan, said: "With three children in every classroom suffering with a diagnosable mental health problem it is vital that the entire children’s workforce becomes more knowledgeable about the role they can play in supporting children’s mental health. MindEd is an excellent resource providing vital information in an easily accessible format.

"We hear from children and young people across the country who tell us that having people to turn to for support is vital in tough times. It can make all the difference for a vulnerable young person to form a trusting relationship with a professional who is prepared to offer informed support and information on where to go for further help in a way that resonates with them."

Dr Hilary Emery, chief executive of NCB, added: "We know that a high proportion of mental health issues first emerge during childhood and adolescence. So it is vital that those people who work with children and young people, both in the health sector and in wider professions, can recognise the warning signs and know how to react.

"Information is the key and the online training about child mental health available from MindEd provides a convenient means for professionals to access learning that could make all the difference to the lives of a child or young person struggling with mental health issues.”