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08/08/22 – A New Start for Children’s Mental Health or ‘Business As Usual’?

By August 8, 2022No Comments

On 5th September, the Conservative Party will announce the name of its new Leader and our new Prime Minister. This will be just a few weeks after the publication of the fourth report by The Commission on Young Lives ‘Heads up: Rethinking mental health services for vulnerable young people.’

The Commission, Chaired by former Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield,  and co-authored with the Centre for Mental Health says that Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services is:

‘Still losing the battle against rocketing demand for help and failing to meet the needs of thousands of children in crisis.’ 

Main findings include:

  • The pandemic has been a disaster for the mental health of many children. One in six aged 6-16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in July 2021 with a 47% increase in the number of new emergency referrals to crisis care teams in under 18 year olds between December 2019 – April 2021
  • By the end of April 2022, 388,887 people were in contact with children and young peoples’ mental health services and 352,866 new referrals were received.
  • In 202-2021, just 23% of children referred to services started treatment within the 4 week waiting target
  • There will be mental health teams in only a third of all schools leaving two thirds of children in schools without help. There are no immediate plans or funds to extend the number further.

Meanwhile, the draft Mental Health Bill; a reform of the 1983 legislation is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny and in its present state, represents a huge missed opportunity for children and young people.

The Government Bill as it stands,  fails to provide statutory protection for children apart from those in detained or clinical circumstances and no early intervention or preventative provision in the community or at school is statutory. Indeed, as The Commission for Young Lives point out, mental health teams are only available in about a third of schools with no plans to increase their number. There has been no statutory provision for the health and welfare of children and young people since 2010 and The Commission state:

‘Too many children are only receiving help at crisis point. Early prevention services are under funded and are not reaching most children, particularly the most vulnerable or marginalised.’

Meanwhile, with barely a month to go, the two candidates for Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister as chosen by around 160,000 Conservative Party members have said nothing whatsoever about what is the biggest crisis facing our children and young people in the UK for successive generations.

The name of the new Prime Minister will be announced on 5th September.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT For Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to break that silence.

Helen Clark: Director of The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign.

Help us to help children today.

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