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Mental Health Services

Volume 551: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2012

The children and young people’s improving access to psychological therapies project, which we introduced in 2011, is about transforming mental health services for children and young people with mental health conditions. The Government’s mental health strategy implementation framework, published in July, suggests actions that schools, colleges and children’s services can take to provide better support.

The Government should be congratulated on tackling the stigma of mental health by their “No health without mental health” policy, but the growing problem of mental illness among school-age children is a concern and with the demise of the early intervention grant, which included the targeted mental health in schools funding, there is a worry that too many schoolchildren will be neglected. Will the Minister liaise with the Department for Education and with school nurses to make sure that appropriate and timely access to talking therapies and others are available for school age children rather than having to rely on the belated chemical cosh of powerful drugs?

May I first pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s work in this area? He has been really impressive and dedicated in his work. I absolutely agree with him about the importance of ensuring access to mental health services for children and adolescents. In fact, the Government are investing over £50 million over a four-year period through the children and young people’s improving access to psychological therapies programme and, critically, involving schools and colleges in that work. I would be very happy to work with my hon. Friend to improve access for children and young people.

I repeat the point that we are actually investing more in a transformation of children’s and adolescents’ mental health services—and it is making a real difference. People within the service can see the benefits that it is bringing.