Minister commits to publish White Paper to ‘pave the way’ for a reform of the original 1983 Mental Health Act.

BUT WHEN?

AND WHERE IS THE MENTION OF CHILDREN?

The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign is grateful to Labour MP Dan Carden for tabling a Question to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on our behalf.

Mr Carden asked:

‘If he will confirm that it is the Government’s intention to introduce a Bill to reform the 1989 Mental Health Act during the course of this parliament as stated in the December 2019 Queen’s Speech and that the urgent needs of children will be on the face of the Bill.’

The Question was answered by the Minister with responsibility for Mental Health, Nadine Dorries who replied:

‘We have committed to publishing a White Paper which will set out the Government’s response to Sir Simon Wessely’s Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983 and pave the way for reform of the Act. We will publish our White Paper as soon as it is possible to do so. We will consult publicly on our proposals and will bring forward a Bill to amend the Act when parliamentary time allows.’

Child Mental Health Campaign Manager Helen Clark said:

‘What is good is that Ms Dorries has confirmed that there will be a White Paper (three years after the 2017 Green Paper) and that it remains the Government’s intention to reform the Mental Health Act.

However, she has not confirmed that the Government intends to keep its promise by introducing a Bill during the course of this parliament and does not mention children. I have therefore asked Mr Carden to table a ‘follow-up’ Question:

‘To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care if he will confirm that the urgent needs of children will be at the heart of the proposed reform of the Mental Health Act and thus the subject of statutory rather than voluntary provision and that it is his intention to follow the White Paper with a Bill during the course of this parliament.’

I await his response with interest. As there has been a dramatic escalation in the mental health problems of children as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown there is no time to waste. The Government must clarify its intentions without delay.’

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