The Government recently published a Green Paper laying out their plans to improve support for children and young people in mental health services, schools and colleges. We welcome many of their proposals, but – with services currently in a state of crisis – we think that far more needs to be done.
Since announcing their plans the Government has held a consultation to give people the chance to have their say on these proposals.
As part of the consultation, we have written to the Department of Health and the Department for Education to say what we think is missing from the Government’s proposals and what we think needs to happen next to improve children and young people’s mental health services.
There are three core proposals in the Green Paper:
- Designated Senior Leads for Mental Health – the Department for Education will provide funding so that every school and college can train a designated lead for mental health.
- Mental Health Support Teams – new teams will be trialed in up to a quarter of the country by 2022/23. The teams will link to schools and colleges, and will provide support to children with mental health problems, make referrals to specialist services, and provide advice and support to teachers and other professionals who work with children.
- Waiting Time Standards – a new four waiting time for CAMHS will be tested in some trailblazer areas throughout the country by 2022/23.
Far too many children with mental health problems do not get help soon enough and we have been campaigning for years to improve early intervention, so we are pleased that the new Mental Health Support Teams could provide early support to children who might otherwise be left waiting months for help.
We are also pleased that the Government has recognised the important role that schools and colleges can play in promoting wellbeing and supporting young people to build resilience.
However, most of the Government’s proposals will only be rolled out to at most a quarter of the country in the next five years, which will be of little consolation to the thousands of young people and parents who are struggling to access support in other areas of the country.
In addition to the proposals from the Green Paper, we think the Government needs to take urgent action to:
- Invest in additional resources to support young people, and parents, to self-manage emotional distress and mental health conditions;
- Make childhood adversity and trauma a public health priority;
- Improve crisis care support for children and young people who are experiencing a mental health crisis;
- Introduce increased and long-term funding for CAMHS, so that all children and young people can get the help and support that they need.
The Health and Education Select Committees are holding a joint inquiry in Parliament, which is looking at the Government’s proposals, and whether there are particular barriers or challenges that need to be considered when the proposals come into effect.
We have written to the Health and Education Select Committees to highlight the areas where we think the plans don’t go far enough and what needs to happen when the proposals are rolled out.