Helen Clark, the APPG’s Lead Author has praised APPG members for making their voices heard in the run-up to publication of the new Mental Health Bill.
On 13th January 2021, the Government published a White Paper: ‘Reforming the Mental Health Act’ and invited responses to a Public Consultation on the proposals. The APPG has published three reports on mental health service provision for children and young people with work continuing on a fourth.
The White Paper contains some useful reforms to hospital and confinement procedure, but does not build upon Theresa May’s earlier Green Paper ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health.’ A strong focus on children is largely absent from the Johnson White Paper.
The APPG held an Emergency Meeting on the plans which was attended by over 70 interested organisations. Many then responded to our request to take part in the Consultation. We thank those who sent us copies of their responses and applaud their eloquent arguments in favour of keeping a strong Green Paper perspective in any new legislative proposals. Meeting notes with links are here.
In reply to one of the submissions (11th March 2021) the Minister for Mental Health, Nadine Dorries affirmed that the Green Paper will not be forgotten.
Ms Dorries said:
‘The Departments have confirmed their commitment to taking forward the ambitious transformational proposals to provide earlier support for children and young people’s mental health in the Green Paper on transforming children and young people’s mental health provision…..
The Green Paper contains three core proposals: to incentivise all schools and colleges to identify and train a Senior Lead for mental health, to create new school and college-based mental health support teams that will be supervised by trained NHS children and young people’s mental health staff, and for specific sites to pilot a four-week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services…
Once implemented, the Green Paper has the potential to significantly improve early intervention and prevention, along with expanding the current children and young people’s mental health workforce and potentially reducing the burden on schools and NHS services.’Nadine Dorries, Minister for Mental Health
Helen Clark welcomed the assurances, adding:
‘This is progress and I would like to thank everyone who attended the Emergency Meeting, participated in the Consultation and presented such strong arguments in favour of the Green Paper’s children-centric approach. It represents a tremendous tribute to our APPG members who work so tirelessly in the interests of children and young people from each and every walk of life.
But the Minister has NOT pledged that the Green Paper proposals will be included in the Mental Health Bill that the Government will eventually present to Parliament.
Unless the Green Paper vision is enshrined in law, there is absolutely no requirement upon this or subsequent governments to abide by it. Like many other non-statutory processes, it may be subject to changes in priorities for whatever reason and then children will not have the protection that they need and deserve.
We have to maintain the pressure.
Ms Dorries and her colleagues must be asked whether the Green Paper proposals will be included in the new Mental Health Bill – and if not, then why not?
This first step shows that our voice is being heard.
NOW WE MUST MAKE IT COUNT!’Helen Clark, Lead Author, All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood