Stephen Fry calls for children's mental health walk-in centres

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry - Credit: Simon Finlay

Norfolk actor Stephen Fry has called for a network of mental health walk-in centres for children and young people who he said have been hit worst by the pandemic.

Mr Fry, who is president of mental health charity, Mind, voiced the charity's appeal to ministers for hubs through which children can access support without a referral from a doctor or their school.

This comes after a Mind survey of almost 12,000 people, including many with pre-existing mental health problems, suggested that almost one in three young people self-harmed in 2020.

Mr Fry, 61, said the walk-in centres would provide help for people aged 11 to 25, and reflected on his own youth as a time of "confused despair".

He told a national newspaper: "I've done my best to speak candidly about my own struggles with mental health - living with bipolar and navigating my way through several dark and troubling times, including a near-fatal overdose."

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Mr Fry, who has presented QI and starred in Blackadder, was brought up in the village of Booton in Norfolk after being born in Hampstead, London, and studied at Norwich University of the Arts, City College and Paston School.

He added that although he has seen a reduction in the stigma around mental health, the pandemic has taken a "huge toll" on people's mental health, and Mind's research has shown that young people are "among the hardest hit".

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He added that children are not getting enough support from schools partly because mental health issues are often treated as "bad behaviour".

"Better to accept our own moral responsibilities to the young and strive to understand and ameliorate this crisis, for crisis it is."

In March 2020, there were 237,088 children and young people in contact with mental health services in England, compared to 305,802 in February 2021, according to the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation.

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