Dr Alex George, the A&E doctor who regularly appears as the resident doctor on ITV’s Lorraine, has been appointed by the Government as its Youth Mental Health Ambassador.
This week, a coalition of health and education experts including Dr Alex met for the first time (Tuesday 9 March) to launch the Mental Health Action Group. The group also looked at the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and education staff across England.
Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, and Dr Alex, along with Children’s Minister Vicky Ford and Universities Minister Michelle Donelan, sat down to discuss how best to respond to the mental health issues of greatest concern. This included the increase in eating disorders and self-harm among young people, and how to help education staff manage their mental wellbeing.
The new action group agreed to take forward more action across a range of areas, including boosting the support available to help children and young people move between schools and year groups, and looking at how schools and colleges can target funding and recovery support to ensure that support reaches pupils who need it the most.
The meeting builds on the Government’s commitment to ensure millions more children and young people have access to specialist support, including significantly expanded mental health services, backed by an additional £79 million.
Speaking about his new role as Youth Mental Health Ambassador, Dr Alex said:
Young people in this country have shown incredible resilience during the pandemic, but we need to recognise that many have struggled with their mental health.
Schools can play a vital role in a young person’s development and wellbeing, and the extra investment for Mental Health Support Teams will make a huge difference.
I want every young person in this country to know that they can speak out and access support when they need it and I will continue working closely with the Government on this important work
Alex, whose younger brother tragically took his own life last year, is passionate about advocating for better mental health awareness and structures in schools.
Speaking in Grazia Daily last month, Dr Alex commented:
I think everyone can say that this year has affected their mental health that we've all been put under strain.
But I think, as adults, we are able to cope with things much better than children. Children don't have the same coping mechanisms, or the understanding necessarily, to be able to deal with some situations so they need support more than ever.