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Mental Health Support Teams

Volume 652: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2019

10. What the aims are of the new mental health support teams to be placed in schools and colleges; and what steps those teams will take to improve mental health for young people. (908565)

The new mental health support teams will deliver evidence-based interventions in or close to schools and colleges for children and young people with mild to moderate mental health issues. In December, we announced the first 25 trailblazer areas in England, and 12 sites will pilot a four-week waiting time to speed up children and young people’s access to NHS mental health services, including in Hertfordshire, serving my hon. Friend’s constituents.

I thank the Minister for that response. She will appreciate that the answer is not just spending more money on mental health—it is how that money is spent. Can the Minister explain in further detail the nature and scope of the research, scientific and otherwise, that has underpinned the Department’s response to the increase in poor mental health in our young people?

My hon. Friend is right: it is important that we get the best value from any investment we make in improving the nation’s mental health by making sure that it is evidence-based. On that basis, the Government engaged extensively with a range of expert organisations and individuals, including children and young people, to inform our proposals to improve mental health support, including through a consultation. We also commissioned academics to undertake a systematic review of the evidence which directly informed our proposals and we will, of course, learn from the trailblazers as we commission additional services later this year.

The Minister will know that the Health and Social Care Committee interrogated the Government’s plans on mental health for our young people. We found a massive gap: many schools that are passionate about their students’ mental health have had to cut the provision that they previously provided, including the educational psychologists, the councillors, the pastoral care workers and the peer mentors. Can she tell us—as the Education Minister could not tell us—what her plans will replace? We know that an army of those professionals are no longer working in our schools.

I know that the hon. Lady is very passionate about all this, and I can say to her that, in rolling out this additional support, we do not want to crowd out anything that is there already. It should genuinely be working in partnership with the provision that has already been undertaken, but we recognise that we need to be rolling out further investment. We are introducing a new workforce that will have 300,000 people when it is fully rolled out, but we must ensure that we invest in the training in such a way that it will be effective.[Official Report, 16 January 2019, Vol. 652, c. 8MC.]