08/02/21 – Meeting calling for sector-wide activity to press for improved mental health support for children and young people

Open Meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood

An open meeting was called by the APPG on 8 February 2021 in response to the publication of the Mental Health White Paper and the contrast between its contents and those of the Green Paper published in December 2017. The White Paper as it stands represents a sad scaling down from the Green Paper vision of widespread reform to stem the tide of large-scale and growing mental health deterioration especially amongst children and young people. The meeting was chaired by Steve McCabe MP and addressed by Phil Royal of the APPG Secretariat, Helen Clark, Lead Author of the APPG and Campaign Manager for the Child Mental Health Charter Campaign, and Lea Milligan, CEO of MQ Mental Health Research.

Without a determined and concerted effort, there is a real risk that the Green Paper proposals will be ‘sometime, never’ and so now is the time for action.

The aim of the action is to press for Green Paper inclusions into the current White Paper and to build a concerted, determined campaign for the Green Paper proposals to be enacted, either through the White Paper or otherwise. See the original calling notice for this meeting.

It is important to act within days: our deadline is Friday 26th February 2021.

DUE TO A TECHNICAL PROBLEM THE MEETING RECORDING FAILED. The chatroom conversations were also lost but – thanks to Tania Shaikh of the Attlee Centre – we can provide them as a document here. You can also add a comment at the foot of this page to make similar points and add links and references.

What you should do now

Write to

Respond to

  1. The White Paper: Please read the White Paper first. The email address for submissions is mhaconsultation2021@dhsc.gov.uk. Don’t be guided by the set questions unless you have a particular interest in any question: simply write with your views on what is needed to help children and young people.
  2. The Select Committee on Health and Social Care – Inquiry into ‘Children and young people’s mental health’. The link to the inquiry is here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1001/children-and-young-peoples-mental-health/ and you can submit a response directly from that page.

The deadline is Friday 26th February 2021.


Tell the APPG

Please keep the APPG informed by sending a summary of the points you have made and action you have taken – and, of course, any responses you receive. The email address to use for this is helenwest1@gmail.com. Please feel free share the link to this page (https://fhcappg.org.uk/?p=3103) across your professional networks.

Screen capture of Zoom meeting on 8 Feb 21
Nearly 80 professionals, academics, politicians and practitioners joined the Zoom meeting on 8th February. Please let the Government know your recommendations for Children and Young People's Mental Health by taking action NOW!

Useful Links

The Green Paper is here

The White Paper is here

To respond to the White Paper, click here

To respond to the Select Committee Inquiry, click here

Past APPG reports on Mental Health are here

A roundup of items featured in the Childhood in Crisis Newsletter is here

To email the APPG click here

The original calling notice for the meeting is here



  1. Whilst the value of time in nature for mental and physical well-being is recognised by the DHSC and DfE it is not appearing in any reports or registering in conversations. Social prescribing for adults to walk in nature or garden is gaining momentum, yet this vital part of being human is not featuring in thinking around children’s mental health.

    The inequities of access to natural spaces for play, recreation and learning have been highlighted by the successive lockdowns. Making ‘outdoor learning’ and nature connecting experiences a statutory part of every child’s education, from early years through secondary, in the way that sport is now provided, through a premium, would make it fair for every child.

    Forest School is one way schools are providing nature connecting, challenging, natural play for children. Gardening, farming, nature study, mountain walking, beach school, residential trips are all part of the rich education on offer in some schools. Post-Covid very child deserves access to the natural world.

    The research is there:
    Oxford Textbook of Nature and Public Health – the role of nature in improving the health of a population – edited by Matilda van den Bosch & William Bird
    Wellbeing from Woodland – a critical exploration of links between trees and human health

  2. While entirely supporting your aims re the Green Paper, Upstart Scotland would like to suggest an additional (and complementary) approach, i.e. working to create the optimum conditions for young children’s development so that mental health problems do not develop or are at least mitigated. For instance, one of the main reasons for children’s referral to CAMHS is ADHD. There is evidence that a later start on formal schooling is a mitigating factor in this and other developmental conditions.
    A relationship- centred, play-based kindergarten stage (3-7) could provide the following well-evidenced ‘protective factors’ for long-term mental health
    – supportive, caring adult-child relationships
    – access to social, active, self-directed play, as often as possible outdoors
    – participation in singing and arts-based activities
    – as often as possible, time spent in nature
    – time for children to develop the foundational skills and capacities (e.g. self regulation) so that they can fully benefit from formal education.
    ‘There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.’ Archbishop Tutu

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