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Hidden Harms: Addressing young people’s mental health needs

23 Jan 2017 5:00PM

Over 140 delegates from across the county gathered at the University of Suffolk today (23 January 2017) to discuss how best to support young people’s mental health.

The Hidden Harms conference brought together some of UK’s leading experts and charities who work to support with a range of mental health issues from eating disorders, to self-harm to online sexual abuse.

The key note address was provided by Dr Richard Graham, leading Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and former Clinical Director of the Adolescent Department at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. He spoke about how mental health can overlap with digital and discussed some of the direct and indirect influences affecting mental health and wellbeing.

Professionals attending the conference included teachers, social workers, those in the health profession to the police and key influencers such as Councillor Gordon Jones, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills at Suffolk County Council. He said “It’s so important regarding the safety of our children that professionals are aware of all the issues and all the facilities that are available. It is a constantly changing world and we all need to keep abreast of the changes for the safety of our children.”

“The amount of money which goes into the mental health of young people from central government is pitiful. I think it is something like 7% of the total mental health budget is for young people. We all know that early intervention is a far more effective way of dealing with these issues. I am actually writing to the Prime Minster because I welcomed her bringing up the mental health agenda recently but we really need to put more resources into prevention rather than cure. I thank the University of Suffolk for putting this on today; it’s really welcome to have this in Suffolk.”

MP for Ipswich, Ben Gummer, was unable to attend but said of the conference “I think we are only just waking up to the seriousness of the problem we have in families and communities across Ipswich and the country of young people’s mental health. I was so pleased to see the prime minister address this directly in her speech, which demonstrates the seriousness in which the government takes this issue. The fact is that we are going to have to be creative in how we seek to improve the mental health of young people – from understanding better how the environment for social media evolves in the future to providing the right support near home for those who have clinical mental health requirements. I commend this conference for the work it is doing to explore these problems and solutions that are so badly needed. And I look forward to the results of your work.”

The aim of the conference was to ensure professionals feel better equipped and confident to deal with issues, many of which are on the rise. For example Papyrus, the only national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, is reporting a 10 year high in the number of incidents currently. Self-Harm has also been described as a ‘crisis in adolescence’ as the numbers increase.

Hidden Harms is taking place during University Impact Week (23-27 January).

To find out more about research at the University of Suffolk visit

To find out more about University Impact Week visit


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