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Children and Young People's Mental Health: Update

Volume 632: debated on Monday 4 December 2017

Together with my right hon Friend the Secretary of State for Education, I have today laid before Parliament “Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper” (CM 9523). The Green Paper forms part of the Government’s work to transform mental health support, ending what the Prime Minister has referred to as the “burning injustice” of inequality which those with mental health problems experience.

This Government have invested more than ever before in mental health services, and legislated for “parity of esteem”, to ensure that mental health is treated equally with physical health. Schools and colleges are already doing a great deal to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. Most offer training to staff and many promote mental health and wellbeing through skills development sessions and taught sessions about particular mental health issues. Around half have a mental health lead.

However, there is more we need to do to create world-class support for children and young people’s mental health. Half of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 14. The Green Paper therefore focuses on earlier intervention and prevention before issues escalate, particularly in and around schools and colleges.

We are announcing plans to fund new collaboratively delivered mental health support teams. They will be made up of additional trained staff, supervised by NHS specialists, to provide support in or near schools and colleges for children and young people with emerging and more moderate needs, We will test how teams can work with other professionals and support vulnerable children and young people. We also want to continue to improve access to specialist services, and will pilot a four-week waiting time standard for accessing children’s mental health services.

We will also build on what schools already do—rolling out our “schools—children and young people’s mental health services link pilot” nationally. We will provide significant funding to incentivise schools and colleges to train designated senior leads for mental health to work with the new teams and implement whole-school approaches to mental health. The Green Paper also sets out how whole-school approaches will be supported by other developments that are underway, including our engagement process on relationships education, relationships and sex education and personal, social, health and economic education.

The Green Paper also contains a number of other proposals to improve support for young people’s mental health, including work to support the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s work on keeping young people safe online, convening a new partnership to look at support for the mental health of 16 to 25-year-olds, and commissioning further research in a number of areas to build our understanding of the evidence.

The Green Paper has been developed with the input of a large range of individuals and organisations. We also commissioned an independent evidence review, conducted by University College London and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, and have based our proposals on the evidence. We also benefited from the evidence submitted to the Health and Education Committees during their inquiry earlier this year into the role of education in children’s mental health. We are grateful to all who have helped shape our proposals.

The proposals as set out in the Green Paper would cost £215 million over the next three years towards the creation of mental health support teams, piloting a four-week waiting time standard and rolling out mental health first aid training to primary schools. Funding will be made available to take forward the final proposals following consultation. We will confirm the amounts to be provided to schools and colleges for training leads following consultation and development of training packages. However we will cover the costs of a significant training programme and provide up to £15 million to 20 million each year from 2019 to cover costs until all schools and colleges have had the chance to train a lead.

The Green Paper will be followed by a consultation and we welcome views on the proposals. Copies of the Green Paper will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The consultation and Green Paper can be accessed at: and uk/youngmentalhealth.