£20m inpatient unit opens in Liverpool to tackle children’s mental health crisis

Alder Hey revealed that the number of children with eating disorders has risen by 250% since 2019.

A new children’s mental health unit has opened in Liverpool, aimed at tackling the growing mental crisis faced by young people in the region.

Sunflower House, the new inpatient unit at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, is for those ages five to 13, who have the most challenging mental health conditions, including but not limited to, depression, eating disorders and psychosis.

According to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, the urgent crisis in mental health has increased demand for specialist inpatient care, as well as other mental health services, and there has been a sharp rise in the number of children with eating disorders.

The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2020 Report shows that one in six children aged between five and 16 now have a probable mental health disorder, increasing from one in nine in 2017. And, new figures from Alder Hey have also revealed an alarming rise in eating disorders since the covid-19 pandemic, with referrals increasing by 250% since 2019.

Sunflower House can house 12 children at a time and is next to Alder Hey’s mental health outpatients clinic, replacing the Dewi Jones facility in Waterloo.

Features of the new unit: The first patients moved into the new building this weekend, which has 12 specially designed bedrooms and a family bedroom, providing a safe and high-quality space to stay. There is also a new therapy garden, a calming sensory room, an immersive room, a de-stimulation room, a safe kitchen environment, group therapy rooms and classrooms.

Children were very involved in the design of the new building and, even got to choose the name.

What has been said: “We are extremely proud that we now have a dedicated mental health inpatient unit at the heart of our Children’s healthcare campus that befits the dedication and care our wonderful staff provide. We are truly grateful to our Charity and everyone who donated to the ‘7in10’ appeal,” said Louise Shepherd, Alder Hey’s Chief Executive.

She added: “That funding has been central to us creating a Unit with our Children and Young People that is warm and welcoming, with state-of-the-art facilities to support them in their recovery.

“More and more children are seeking help and support for mental health conditions and together with our new Catkin Centre, Sunflower House will enable us to give them the help and treatment they need and that they absolutely deserve.”

Sunflower House. Image: Alder HeySunflower House. Image: Alder Hey
Sunflower House. Image: Alder Hey