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

Published Tuesday, January 8, 2019

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 can have a range of negative impacts on individuals and families, which can continue into adult life unless properly treated. Successive Governments have pledged to improve mental health support for children and young people.

The 2010-2015 Coalition Government committed to improving mental health for children and young people, as part of its commitment to achieving “parity of esteem” between physical and mental health. 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. The Policing and Crime Act 2017 included provision to end the practice of children and young people being kept in police cells as a “place of safety” whilst awaiting mental health assessment or treatment.

In December 2017 a Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health was published for consultation, which set out measures to improve mental health support, in particular through schools and colleges. The Green Paper set out three key proposals:

  • To incentivise and support all schools and colleges to identify and train a Designated Senior Lead for mental health.
  • To fund new Mental Health Support Teams, which will be supervised by NHS children and young people’s mental health staff.
  • To pilot a four week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services.

The Government’s response to the consultation, published in July 2018, committed to taking forward all proposals in the Green Paper, with certain areas trialling the three key proposals by the end of 2019.

Alongside changes to Relationships and Sex Education, the Government announced the introduction of statutory health education in July 2018. Draft statutory guidance on RSE and health education was published, with a consultation on the guidance that was open until 7 November 2018. The statutory guidance is intended to come into force in September 2020, with schools able to implement the changes from September 2019 if they wish. The draft guidance sets out proposed requirements for health education. The requirements cover physical health and mental wellbeing and make clear that the two are interlinked.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7196

Authors: Elizabeth Parkin; Robert Long; Alex Bate; Manjit Gheera; Tom Powell

Topics: Health services, Mental health, Schools

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