MP’s slam government mental health plans for young people

Children and young people’s green paper is unambitious, say joint committees

Published on 9th May 2018

MPs have criticised the government’s proposals to transform children and young people’s mental health services as unambitious and failing to help young people who need support.

burden to overstretched and under-resourced health and education sectors.

Chair of the Education Committee, Rob Halfon MP, said: “The government must back up its warm words by taking urgent action to address the mental health issues which children and young people face today. This strategy does not go far enough, which raises the very real prospect of hundreds of thousands of children missing out on the getting the help they so desperately need.

Half of schools have been forced to cut back on mental health services yet, under proposals outlined in the Green Paper on Transforming Children and Young People's Mental Health, will need to deliver the ‘Designated Senior Lead for Mental Health’ role from within their own ranks.

The committees heard evidence of exam pressures exacerbating mental health problems and impacting negatively on young people. The report calls on the government to gather independent evidence concerning the impact of exam pressure on young people. 

Young people excluded from school are more likely to have social, emotional and mental health needs, yet the Green Paper does not address this issue, the report warns, urging the government to focus on the increase in pupils being excluded with mental health needs and how the mental health needs of excluded pupils are being met.

Furthermore, the age where children transfer from child and adolescent mental health to adult services should be raised from 18 to 25 given a third of 18 year olds drop out of mental health support rather than transfer to adult services.

“The government must commit to a full assessment of the current transition arrangements between child and adult mental health services. In addition there needs to be a distinct and separate set of proposals for looked after children accessing mental health services,” said the report.

Rob Halfon added: “We heard of the strong links between social disadvantage and mental health issues. If the government is serious about tackling injustices in our society, it must ensure proper targeted funding of support for those most in need. Ministers should also recognise the separate support needs of apprentices and FE students. Social media is an increasing part of young people’s lives. Given both the negative and positive impacts it can have on young people’s mental health, social media education should be made a compulsory part of PHSE in all schools.”

The children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield said: “The select committee’s stark warning about the scale of the crisis in children’s mental health services mirrors what I have been saying for some time. Many thousands of children are failing to receive support and care when they need it and too often referrals for treatment are only being made when a child reaches crisis point. In the worst cases, children have even attempted to take their own life just to access services.”

“The Committee is right to say the Green Paper is not ambitious enough. It is time for the government to set itself an ambitious deadline, with staging posts along the way, to deliver a fully joined-up system that closes the gap between spending on adult and children’s mental health services, introduces proper monitoring of need and access, and invests more in early intervention so that problems are dealt with before they become critical,” concluded Ms Longfield.

The Government’s Green Paper on mental health: failing a generation



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