Children’s Mental Health Week 2022 comes at a time when the mental health of children and young people is discussed as never before. It will be marked today by an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons and I hope that MPs from all political parties will attend and represent their constituents by standing up for children in their constituencies.
Those of us who have long campaigned to raise the profile of an issue that is proving to be the true legacy of Covid 19 (following years of neglect and under-investment) will welcome this.
We welcome today the fact that these matters will be raised by those who represent us and have the power to make change happen.
BUT WILL IT?
The omens are poor. In 2017, a Green Paper on the mental health of children and young people seemed to suggest that future legislation would, at last place their needs at the heart of new legislation. Yet the subsequent White Paper was disappointing. Apart from some measures to improve the lot of those detained for their safety, and to improve outcomes for those with autism, it was as if the Green Paper had not happened. The Green Paper was, in effect ‘ghosted’ by the Government and its proposals ignored.
Following expressions of widespread public concern, Ministers now mention children’s mental health again. Schools can access funding from a pot designed to help their pupils catch up academically; mental health support teams have been announced with their number promised to increase; damage from online abuse and country lines exploitation has been exposed and condemned.
THE GREEN PAPER HAS ‘COME IN FROM THE COLD’ OR HAS IT?
Nothing has changed New measures are ‘pilot’ schemes; none enshrined in law. But this year the Government will introduce the first reform of the Mental Health Act since 1983. There is still chance for the new legislation to put the mental health of children and young people at its heart – if we act now.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Please write to your MP. Ask them to write to The Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid and the Prime Minster, Boris Johnson. Tell them that a new Mental Health Act must place the needs of children and young people at its heart; supported by the Six Principles in the Child Mental Health Charter.
HELP THE CHILD MENTAL HEALTH CHARTER CAMPAIGN TO HELP CHILDREN TODAY