New £20 million mental health unit for five to 13-year-olds opens in Liverpool

A new unit dedicated to the mental health of children under the age of 13 has opened at Liverpool's Alder Hey Hospital.

Sunflower House is one of only six such units in the country and has space for 12 young people.

It replaces the old Dewi Jones facility, which is eight miles away from Alder Hey and only has nine bedrooms.

Sunflower House has been designed specifically for children with them being asked what they wanted - and the children even chose the name.

The canteen was designed by children. Credit: ITV News

It is an inpatient mental health facility for children aged five to 13-years-old who will have some of the most challenging mental health conditions including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, autism spectrum disorders, psychosis and self-harm.

As it is on the Alder Hey campus it offers increased access to specialist support, including expertise in long-term conditions.

Sunflower House has a a fully immersive room with the ability to create thousands of different scenarios

It has a therapy garden, 12 bedrooms, a de-stimulation room, an ADL kitchen, an immersive room, group therapy rooms, and classrooms.

Highly specialised staff including specialist clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, mental health workers, occupational therapists, art and music therapists and mental health nurses make up the team.

£3 million of the funding for the build came from Alder Hey Children’s Charity’s 7 in 10 Mental Health Appeal.

The unit has 12 bedrooms. Credit: ITV News

Louise Shepherd, CBE Chief Executive of Alder Hey said: "The children will be brought in here for various different reasons, but sadly the biggest change we've seen since the pandemic is the increase in the number of children presenting with eating disorders.

"Being able to provide careful, thoughtful and specialist support for those children when they need it and to get them back on their feet and hopefully back home as quickly as possible is what this unit is about.

"This has been a dream of ours for over ten years to be able to bring this unit here so that we can really wrap round children and young people in the way they deserve."

According to The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2020 Report (NHS Digital), one in six children aged between five and 16 now have a probable mental health disorder.

Alder Hey cares for over 2,000 children and young people with mental health conditions every year.

Over 20,000 appointments take place annually, with many children needing months and sometimes years of specialist care.

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