The Coalition welcomes the Government’s response to the Green Paper’s consultation on children and young people’s mental health. We appreciate the response to the questions and concerns many expressed during the consultation – especially regarding the ambition and scale of the proposals.

Whilst we would like to see more and sooner, we recognise that delivering proposals with the potential for wide-scale change across the education and children and young people’s mental health sectors needs to manage the tension between ‘fixing’ the urgent problem of existing demand and the creation of a new and sustainable plan. As a Coalition, our members will work hard, both with government and colleagues on the front line to ensure the best is made of the opportunities provided. We want to ensure these have the greatest impact possible on children and young people and families.

We endorse the commitment to further shape the Paper’s proposals through local need and experience, alongside robust evaluation. It is particularly critical that national roll out across schools and colleges and the shape of Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) are built on this learning.  We are also pleased the new MHST will ensure a mix of junior and senior staff and hope the stated commitment to bring extra capacity into an already overstretched system is met.

The new Designated Leads in schools together with the introduction of mental health education in schools from September 2020 are also promising. We are committed to work with government and our members to ensure these developments make a positive difference – and do not have an adverse impact on staff wellbeing or school budgets.

As a Coalition with many voluntary sector members, we are also pleased at the recognition of their contribution. Local leadership is crucial to harness local resources and the good practice needed to deliver on the child and young person-centred responses required.  It is vital local CCGs in the trailblazer areas, which will hold the new funds, work proactively with all relevant partners across the health, education, voluntary sector and the local authority.

While we welcome Government’s attention to maternal mental health and the importance of the perinatal period in building good mental health in children, we are concerned about piecemeal proposals at the other end of the age range. Clearly Government has rightly listened to the powerful lobbying of the university sector, but it must do more for those not at university – some of whom are the most vulnerable young adults.

The new proposals currently sit in the broader landscape to transform children and young people’s mental health begun under Future in Mind.  Whilst these are promising signals for strengthening work between the health and education sectors, alongside the testing a new waiting time standard for those with greater need, there is, however, much more to do.

The new NHS Plan must sustain the good practice built under ‘Future in Mind, whilst also tackling the gaps and issues clearly identified in for example the Care Quality Commission’s report ‘Are You Listening?’.  The new Plan must secure a proportion of the new NHS investment that children and young people’s mental health needs over the long-term,and put in place the national and local accountability structures to achieve the change children, young people and their families deserve. As a Coalition, we will continue to hold Government to account if it fails to meet the pressing challenges it has itself recognised.

Barbara Rayment