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Mental Health: Young People

Volume 753: debated on Monday 7 April 2014


Tabled by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to reduce mental illness among young people.

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Goudie, and at her request, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in her name on the Order Paper.

My Lords, through our action plan Closing the Gap we are supporting schools to ensure that mental health problems are identified early, improving outcomes. Children’s mental health is a priority, and we have invested £54 million over the four-year period 2011-15 in the children and young people’s improving access to psychological therapies programme, known as CYP IAPT, to transform child and adolescent mental health services—CAMHS—improving young people’s access to the best evidence-based care.

I thank the noble Earl for that reply. Is he aware that the Royal Society for Public Health, together with the Prince’s Trust, published a report in this year’s annual Youth Index that showed an extremely high correlation between unemployment and mental illness among young people? In fact, a startling 40% of young people who were unemployed had signs of mental illness and were developing self-harm issues and even suicidal thoughts. Can the Minister say what the Government are doing about that report? Following on from the earlier Question, I suppose that the simple answer would be more jobs for unemployed people, but can the Minister say more about what the Department for Education is doing? Schools have a responsibility to introduce mental health and well-being classes formally within education but they are very reluctant to work with health services, particularly mental health services, to deliver that. Can the Minister say what is being done at a national level between the Department of Health and the Department for Education, as well as in encouraging local mental health services to work with schools?

My Lords, I am aware of the study to which the noble Lord refers. It ties in quite closely with the findings of the Marmot report of a few years ago, which correlated quite closely the link between socioeconomic deprivation and children and young persons’ mental ill-health. Helping people, especially young people, get back into employment is a key priority for the Government. We know that young adults with mental health issues are underrepresented in the labour market. We aim to enable more young people with mental health needs to find and keep a job. There is an ongoing government programme to drive whole-system and cultural change, led by the Department for Work and Pensions. We are working with health and social care services to support young people to become economically active, not least through the CYP IAPT programme.

As regards schools, very briefly, schools can raise awareness of mental health through PSHE. Mental health is not a compulsory part of the curriculum. However, I note that the new national curriculum will see children aged five to 16 taught about internet safety in a sensible, age-appropriate way, which is a really important step to help children and young people understand some of the issues facing them.

My Lords, I very much welcome the announcement of the increased investment in improved access to psychological therapies for children and young people. Can the Minister tell the House what percentage of children diagnosed with depression and anxiety and displaying serious conduct disorders will receive treatment as a result of the Government’s increased investment?

Children with the conditions mentioned by the noble Baroness are most certainly eligible for CYP IAPT, not least cognitive behavioural therapy for emotional disorders, which include anxiety and depressive disorders. The programme covers services available to 54% of England’s population aged nought to 19—our target is 60%—and that is successfully giving children and young people improved access to the best evidenced care. NHS England is planning for a countrywide extension of the programme and the Government’s aim is that all of England should be involved by 2018.

My Lords, regarding my noble friend’s statement that £54 million has been made available over four years, although there will be plenty in the department and some in the NHS who know of this project, can he tell your Lordships’ House how information around the services paid for by this project are brought to the attention of young people themselves and their parents?

My noble friend clearly has a close insight into this area because he is spot on in asking that question. CYP IAPT is rather different from the adult IAPT programme. It is a programme that aims to ensure that those working with CAMHS work much more closely with children and young people and with their parents and their families. The services have to enable children and their parents to have a say in designing the service that they receive, and they must also introduce and use regular outcome measures that help the child or young person and their parents and therapist to understand how well the child is doing. Therefore, involving the parents is absolutely integral.

My Lords, a recent survey found that more than half of young carers reported having a mental health problem, including feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, eating and sleeping problems and risk of self-harm. What are the Government doing to support these dedicated young people? What guidance will be given in the Children and Families Act and the Care Bill on how local authorities should work with mental health services to ensure that young carers get the support they so clearly need and deserve?

The noble Baroness is absolutely right and the pressures and strains on young carers have been well recorded. It is fair to say that compared with a few years ago, not least thanks to the efforts of the previous Government but also the work that we have continued, GPs and others working with families are much more alert now to the needs of young carers and can signpost them to appropriate support. The CYP IAPT programme is designed no less for young carers than it is for others.