In the run up to the general election, the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition are calling on all political parties to make a strong commitment to babies, children, and young people’s mental health in their election manifestos.
The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition’s ‘Manifesto for babies, children and young people’s mental health’ outlines the changes needed to improve mental health outcomes and address enduring issues within the children’s mental health system. The recommendations have wide-ranging consensus from across the mental health sector and set out a series of steps the next government can take to make sure all babies, children, and young people grow up in a society that prioritises their mental health.
The call from charities comes at a time when there has been a significant increase in mental health need. One in five children and young people now have a mental health problem compared one in nine in 2017. Yet many struggle to get the support they need, contending with high threshold for support, rejected referrals and long waiting times to be seen by services. Around 75% of young people experiencing a mental health problem are forced to wait so long that their condition gets worse, or they are unable to access any treatment at all. Sadly, suicide is currently the leading cause of death for those aged between 5 and 19.
The Coalition are concerned that mental health has slipped off the political agenda after a number of recent commitments were abandoned by the Government. This includes a ten-year mental health plan and promises to reform the Mental Health Act, which was omitted from the recent King’s Speech. This is despite four in ten people now saying that mental health will be important in shaping their decision on which party to vote for at the next general election.
The manifesto argues that any government that truly aspires to promote a healthy society must put mental health at the heart of policy change. It calls for a package of reforms to transform the children’s mental health system, including:
- Committing at least an additional £1.7bn per year for Integrated Care Systems to deliver a comprehensive mental health pathway for all babies, children and young people aged 0-25.
- Embedding whole educational approaches to mental health and wellbeing across all education settings.
- Increasing the provision of early intervention support in the community through the national roll-out of early support hubs in every local area.
- Bringing forward reform of the Mental Health Act 1983, to ensure that children and young people’s rights are protected and promoted, and that they receive high quality and compassionate care.
Amy Whitelock Gibbs, Chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition says: ““This is a watershed moment for children and young people’s mental health. A perfect storm of the Covid-19 pandemic, deepening inequalities in society and decades of inaction have led to an untenable situation– leaving babies, children, young people, and their families without the support they so desperately need.
No longer can we accept false promises for change that result in little or no action. The upcoming general election is a critical opportunity to turn the tide on mental health. Our manifesto calls on all political parties to adopt our four pledges and invest in proven solutions, to ensure that all babies, children, and young people get the support they need and deserve.”
Notes to editors:
- Full manifesto is available from 00:01hrs Wednesday 29th November 2023 via this link: https://cypmhc.org.uk/publications/a-manifesto-for-babies-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health/
- The statistics citied in the press release are referenced within the full manifesto document.
- The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition (CYPMHC) represents the views of over 270 charities, academic institutions and professional bodies who come together to campaign for the better mental health of babies, children and young people. Read here for further information: http://cypmhc.org.uk/.
- For press enquires for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition please contact Charlotte.Rainer@cypmhc.org.uk