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Children and young people’s mental health – policy, CAMHS services, funding and education

Published Wednesday, June 22, 2016

House of Commons Library briefing on children and young people’s mental health policy and services.

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House of Commons Library briefing on children and young people’s mental health policy and services.

One in four people on average experience a mental health problem, with the majority of these beginning in childhood. A report by the Chief Medical Officer in 2014 found that 50 per cent of adult mental health problems start before the age of 15 and 75 per cent before the age of 18.

The Coalition Government committed to improving mental health for children and young people, as part of their commitment to achieving “parity of esteem” between physical and mental health, and to improving the lives of children and young people. The Government’s 2011 mental health strategy, No Health without Mental Health, pledged to provide early support for mental health problems, and the Deputy Prime Minister’s 2014 strategy, Closing the Gap: priorities for essential change in mental health, included actions such as improving access to psychological therapies for children and young people. The Department of Health and NHS England established a Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce which reported in March 2015 and set out ambitions for improving care over the next five years. The Coalition Government also pledged funding for children and adolescent mental health, detailed in the briefing.

The 2015 Government has announced new funding for mental health, including specific investment in perinatal services and eating disorder services for teenagers. Additionally, the Government has committed to implementing the 2016 Mental Health Taskforce’s recommendations, including specific objectives to improve treatment for children and young people by 2020/21. The Policing and Crime Bill, currently going through Parliament, legislates to end the practice of children and young people being kept in police cells as a “place of safety” whilst they await mental health assessment or treatment.

There has also been a drive to improve the provision of mental health support in schools. In June 2014, the Department for Education published guidance for schools on identifying and supporting pupils who may have mental health problems. In March 2015, the Department provided schools with practical, evidence-based advice on how to deliver high-quality school based counselling. The Department also funded the PSHE Association to produce guidance on teaching about mental health problems.

There have been calls for teaching on mental health to be introduced as a mandatory subject on the national curriculum – mental health and wellbeing is part of the non-statutory programme of study for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, produced by the PSHE Association. The Department for Education have confirmed that schools should have flexibility to teach over and above what the national curriculum requires, including on mental health.

This briefing applies to England only.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7196

Author: Elizabeth Parkin

Topics: Health services, Mental health, Schools

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