On February 8, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood convened an open meeting to encourage campaigning on child mental health. It was attended by over 80 individuals representing many organisations and led to numerous powerful and cogent letters and submissions to the Health and Education Secretaries, Chairs of Select Committees and official Consultations and Inquiries.
We still await proper recognition for this issue, however in recent days Government has responded with new announcements promising:
- An action plan will be published, setting out further measures to respond to and mitigate the impacts on mental health across the population ‘in due course’
- Access to mental health support for children and young people with emerging mental health issues will be facilitated via the establishment of new Mental Health Support Teams. The MHSTs are intended to provide early intervention on mild to moderate issues, as well as helping staff within a school or college setting to provide a ‘whole-school approach’
- £79 million of the previously announced £500 million investment in mental health will be specifically allocated to support the mental health of children and young people
- The number of the new mental health support teams will increase from 59 at present to a projected 400 by April 2023
- There will be a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health and wellbeing provided through training sessions for parents and workshops for teachers
- Access to community mental health services will be expanded giving an additional 22,500 more children and young people access to help and support by 2021-2022
- Services will be expanded as part of the NHS Long Term Plan which will see an additional 345,000 more children and young people access mental health services by 2024
- Eating disorder services will be made accessible to an additional 2,000 children and young people within the community
- Children and young people facing a mental health crisis will continue to get support through 24/7 crisis lines and additional funding will support follow-up crisis treatment at home where necessary
Please keep up the pressure! Write in again and keep writing about what needs to be done. The people to contact are listed here.
Chair of the APPG Steve McCabe said:
These are welcome first steps. Of course, they do not go far enough and little has been said about financial resources, but I am hopeful that they indicate the beginnings of a transition to a nationwide mental health policy that will place children where they should be – at the heart of decision-making. I urge everyone who wants mental health services to be properly reflective of children’s needs and interests in all settings to continue to keep up the pressure.
‘I hope that the Government will now build on these modest measures by announcing a full Mental Health Recovery Strategy for Children and Young People in the House of Commons and make that the centrepiece of one of the Government’s national press conferences. Unless people are alerted in a very public way, they will have no idea what is available for them and these measures should also be subject to scrutiny in the House of Commons as is usual with important announcements.
This is a fair start after so many years of inaction but I see it as the beginning rather than the end of a conversation about how the Government will ensure that the mental health of all children and young people is the very best that it can be. I anticipate – and expect – that we will be hearing much more.
I want to thank everybody who sent their views in and urge you all to keep up the pressure.Steve McCabe MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood