As 2022 comes to a close, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on our work over the past year. This year has brought a lot of change, with a new mental health bill, the ten-year mental health plan consultation, and external events such as the cost of living crisis adding additional pressures to children and young people’s mental health.

The support of our members has been invaluable, and we would like to say a massive thank you for all your support, and for the work you do to support the mental health of babies, children, and young people.  We look forward to working with you all in 2023!

Our highlights of 2022 include:

This year, we launched our inquiry into behaviour and mental health in schools. Coalition members have long been concerned that often children and young people get punished for behaviour that is linked to their mental health and special educational needs and disabilities, and that responses to behaviour, like the use of isolation rooms and exclusion, can further harm young people’s mental health.

Through the inquiry, we are exploring the links between mental health and behaviour, how current school policies on behaviour impact young people and their families, and what role a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing can play in improving in behaviour, mental health, and wellbeing.

Early findings from the inquiry show that whilst young people and parents believe behaviour is linked to a young person’s mental health, they reported that schools are not always responsive to mental health needs when dealing with behaviour issues, and that behaviour management techniques used in schools are not effective in improving behaviour.

We look forward to publishing our full findings in Spring next year.

Last year, the government committed to producing a new mental health plan which would set out their vision for promoting, preventing, and treating mental ill-health over the next 10 years. This summer, the public and organisations were given the chance to have their say on what the plan should include through an open consultation process.

We responded to the consultation jointly with the Schools Wellbeing Partnership. Our response was based on our what our members told us children and families need from the mental health system. We highlighted the importance of promotion, prevention and early interventions, of improving the quality and effectiveness of specialist treatment and in ensuring that accountability measures are put in place to ensure the successful implementation of the plan.

This year saw the publication of a new draft Mental Health Bill to amend the Mental Health Act 1983. We have continued our work to ensure that the reforms work for children and young people.

The draft Bill is currently undergoing scrutiny by a Joint Committee of MPs and members of the House of Lords. We submitted written evidence to the Committee where we highlighted our concerns that the draft Bill misses a vital opportunity to strengthen safeguards for under 18 year olds, both those that are detained and those who are admitted informally.

Following our submission, we were invited to give evidence to the Joint Committee setting out how we think the draft Bill will impact children and young people. The session focused on a statutory test for decision making for under 16s, provisions around the new Nominated Person, and how to reduce inappropriate placements.

We are pleased that children and young people are being considered within the reforms to the Mental Health Act, but we know that more work is needed to make sure children’s rights are protected and promoted.

We have continued to work with BACP, Centre for Mental Health, Black Thrive Global, The Children’s Society, Mind, Youth Access and YoungMinds on our #FundtheHubs campaign. The campaign calls for a national network of early support hubs to ensure that children and young people aged 11-25 can get early support with their mental health.

We submitted a joint response with campaign partners to the consultation on the ten-year mental health plan highlighting the importance of expanding early intervention and prevention services, and how the early support hub model can ensure children and young people can access early support for their mental health.

We were also invited to No10 by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss children and young people’s mental health, including early intervention support and the importance of the early support hub model.

This year we have continued to work with our members to provide a packed agenda of lunch and learn webinars. These webinars provide the opportunity to bring our members together to discuss different issues related to the work that our members do.

Examples of webinars we have held this year include a focus on Integrated Care Systems, early intervention in physical and mental health, and the economic cost of poor parental mental health. You can watch all of our lunch and learn webinars here.

Towards the new year

As we look towards 2023, we will continue to work hard to ensure we have a mental health system that prioritises and invests in babies, children and young people.

We look forward to launching the findings from our behaviour and mental health in schools inquiry, to continuing our work on the draft Mental Health Bill, to working with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance on a new project on the maternal mental health of young mums aged 16-25, and to getting started on our Members’ Report 2023.