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Mental Health Services

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

13. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on the review of child and adolescent mental health services; and if he will make a statement. (205977)

The two Secretaries of State have had discussions about the CAMHS review prior to its announcement in the children’s plan, and subsequently during their regular meetings to discuss a range of issues. Both Secretaries of State are closely involved in the progress of the review. Meetings have been held, and further meetings are planned, between the review’s chairmen and the Secretaries of State. They will also jointly attend a forthcoming meeting of the review’s expert group.

I hope that the Minister is aware of the latest report from the Children’s Society in connection with its Good Childhood inquiry, which raises concerns about the rising mental health problems among children and young people. As part of the review, will the Secretaries of State consider the roles that schools and education welfare people can play in helping to identify children who are at risk of developing such problems, and perhaps in helping to prevent the problems from developing?

I can confirm that. I can also confirm that, in addition to the meetings that I mentioned in my answer, at the Department of Health later this afternoon I shall meet the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis), along with front-line practitioners and members of the expert group, to discuss the review even further.

As my hon. Friend says, schools have a vital role to play. Only last week I visited St Matthew’s school, Westminster, and in previous weeks I visited Mowlem primary school in Tower Hamlets, where we looked at the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning programme. I hope that Conservative Front Benchers have changed their minds about that programme, because it is having a real effect in transforming some of those problems in our schools.

Does my hon. Friend recognise that in our increasingly complex world, it is very important—probably much more important than in the past—to build up children’s resilience, so that as they grow up they are better able to handle the many things that come into their lives? One of the best ways of building resilience is through the early intervention programmes that the Government have set in train. Can my hon. Friend assure me that the Secretary of State will continue to discuss those programmes, which we know work and have significant effects as children grow older, with the Secretary of State for Health? I believe that that will have a real effect.

Yes. I pay tribute to the work of my right hon. Friend, who was an early innovator of those initiatives, and piloted and introduced many of them to Government. Early intervention and building the resilience of children and young people are vital in today’s complicated world, and I assure her they are at the heart of the children’s plan and the Department’s mission.