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Mental Health Services

Volume 659: debated on Tuesday 7 May 2019

16. What steps his Department is taking to increase awareness of rare, genetic and undiagnosed conditions in mental health services. (910729)

Steps to increase awareness of rare conditions in care settings and speciality services, including mental health services, are being taken through the implementation of the UK rare disease strategy. The Department published an update to its implementation plan for achieving the commitments and strategy in England in February this year to coincide with Rare Disease Day.

I thank the Minister for her answer. Specific mental health problems are common symptoms of the genetic and often undiagnosed condition of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and therefore many people with the condition need access to knowledgeable mental health services, but families often report being unable to get the support that they need. With Mental Health Awareness Week fast approaching, will the Minister meet me to discuss increasing awareness of 22q11.2 among NHS mental health practitioners and ensure that people with the syndrome can access the services that they need in all parts of the United Kingdom?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Of course I will be happy to meet him. He is right to identify the fact that people with long-term conditions are more likely to suffer from mental ill health. It is very important that we achieve good care co-ordination so that all those issues can be tackled in the round. We will continue to work to ensure that professionals are made aware of these conditions.

I have spent much of the past week supporting the parents of a child who has a very, very rare genetic condition and who now needs the support of child and adolescent mental health services. It has become very clear to me that CAMHS is set up only to deal with mainstream children who can go through perhaps its anxiety counselling courses and who can process information in a certain way. It does not seem at all geared up to help children who have very complex needs and perhaps learning disabilities. What can we do to make sure that those children who are more vulnerable are not left behind?

The hon. Lady is entirely right. I am particularly concerned about the impact on young people going through a period of mental ill health who have neurodiverse conditions and other conditions. It is very important that we tackle the entirety of the individual’s need. Clearly, we need to do more to make sure that all children with whatever conditions can access help when they need it.

My ambition is to reach Question 17 so that the House, Mid Sussex, the nation, the European continent and the world can hear the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames).