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Children and Young People (Mental Health and Wellbeing)

Volume 594: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2015

The Government have published their report of the work of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce—“Future in mind: promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing”. The work of the taskforce took account of the evidence gathered by the Health Committee as part of its recent inquiry into child and adolescent mental health. “Future in mind” addresses many of the recommendations of the Health Committee’s third report of Session 2014-15, “Children’s and adolescents’ mental health and CAMHS” (HC 342), published on 5 November 2014.

I established the taskforce in September 2014; it is co-chaired by the Department of Health and NHS England with involvement from the Department for Education. Membership included people with experience and expertise in children and young people’s mental health, including health organisations, schools, the voluntary and community sector, young people and parents. Its remit was to consider ways to make it easier for children, young people, parents and carers to access help and support when needed and to improve how children and young people’s mental health services are organised, commissioned and provided.

“Future in mind” sets out a compelling moral, social and economic case for change. 75% of mental health problems in adult life—excluding dementia—start by the age of 18. Early intervention avoids young people falling into crisis and avoids expensive and longer term interventions in adulthood. Evidence presented to the taskforce also underlined the complexity and severity of the current challenges facing child and adolescent mental health services, including gaps in data, increasing difficulties in accessing treatment, a lack of clear leadership and accountability arrangements, and specific issues facing highly vulnerable groups of children and young people. The evidence highlighted disinvestment at a local level in many areas. The Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement on 14 March of £250 million per year additional funding for children and young people’s mental health care and perinatal mental health care over the course of the next Parliament will make an important contribution to addressing these challenges.

The report sets out a clear national ambition in the form of key aspirations that the Government would wish to see by 2020, including:

Tackling stigma and improving attitudes to mental illness by building on the success of the Time to Change programme and developing a targeted campaign to create a culture where young people and their families are not afraid to seek help.

More access and waiting time standards for services so that children and young people can expect prompt treatment when they need it, just as they can for physical health problems.

Information and self-help via online tools and apps with approved information and support that will help young people “self-care” and know how to seek professional help if they need it.

Changing the way services are commissioned so that care is based around the needs of children and their families and they can get the right support from the right service at the right time.

“One-stop shop” support services in the community so that anyone needing support knows where to find it.

Improved access to support through named points of contact in specialist mental health services and schools, including mental health specialists working directly in schools and GP


Improved care for children and young people in crisis so they are treated in the right place at the right time, as close to home as possible. This would build on the work of the Crisis Care Concordat to make sure no one under 18 experiencing a mental health crisis is detained in a police cell.

Mental health training for health professionals—including GPs—and others who work with children and young people including staff in schools to help them identify problems and make sure children and young people get the help they need.

Improved access for children and young people who are particularly vulnerable, such as looked after children and care leavers, and those in contact with the youth justice system.

“Future in mind” sets out that many of the proposals can be achieved through better working between the NHS, local authorities, voluntary and community services, schools and other local services, rather than needing significant investment. The report also sets out a number of proposals that require critical decisions on further investment and on local service redesign. The additional funding announced by the Deputy Prime Minister on 14 March will provide a significant boost to implementing the proposals outlined.

We are clear that this cannot all be done from Whitehall. There has to be a change in culture in local areas. “Future in mind” proposes the development of local transformation plans for children and young people’s mental health and well-being in 2015-16 which will clearly articulate the local offer, from health promotion and prevention work to support and interventions for children and young people who have existing or emerging mental health problems. To support this, NHS England will make a specific contribution by prioritising further investment in children and young people’s mental health announced in the autumn statement 2014 in those areas that can demonstrate robust action planning through the publication of transformation plans. The additional funding announced by the Deputy Prime Minister on 14 March will help local areas to make the best possible start in developing transformation plans. It will also fund completion of roll-out of, and the extension of, the successful children and young people’s improving access to psychological therapies programme (CYP IAPT). This will ensure more children and young people with mental health problems have access to high-quality evidence-based treatments.

A copy of “Future in mind” has been placed in the Library.