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

Published Friday, June 9, 2017

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

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Mental health problems which begin in childhood and adolescence lead to significant distress, with a range of negative impacts on individuals and families, and these can continue into adult life unless properly treated. Mental illness in children is common and the majority of adult mental health problems begin in childhood: 50 per cent of adult mental health problems (excluding dementia) start before the age of 15, and 75 per cent start before the age of 18. The Chief Medical Officer has highlighted that underinvestment in children and young people’s mental health services has a wider cost to society, while effective early treatment can help improve individual’s attainment and relationships later in life.

This House of Commons Library briefing covers children and young people’s mental health services since 2010, focusing on NHS and schools policy. The 2010-2015 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 2011 mental health strategy, No Health without Mental Health, pledged to provide early support for mental health problems, and the former 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 (Future in Mind) and set out ambitions for improving care over the next five years.

The 2015-2017 Government announced new funding for mental health, including specific investment in perinatal services and eating disorder services for teenagers. Additionally, the 2015 Government committed to implementing the recommendations made in The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (February 2016), including specific objectives to improve treatment for children and young people by 2020/21.

In March 2017 a joint report from the Health and Education Select Committee highlighted the front line role of schools in promoting children and young people’s mental health. This briefing covers some of the measures taken to improve the provision of mental health support in schools, and to foster closer working between the health and education systems.

This Library briefing also covers the package of reforms to improve mental health that were announced in January 2017, which emphasised the importance of early intervention for children and young people. This includes:

  • new support for schools with every secondary school in the country to be offered mental health first aid training and new trials to look at how to strengthen the links between schools and local NHS mental health staff;
  • a major thematic review of children and adolescent mental health services across the country, led by the Care Quality Commission, to identify what is working and what is not;
  • a new green paper on children and young people’s mental health to set out plans to transform services in schools, universities and for families; and
  • support for NHS England’s commitment to eliminate inappropriate placements to inpatient beds for children and young people by 2021.

This briefing applies to England only.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7196

Authors: Elizabeth Parkin; Tom Powell

Topics: Health services, Mental health, Schools

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