Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision – a joint response
A response from the Partnership for Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools, the Fair Education Alliance and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition
About this response
Membership of these three coalitions includes leading charities, professional and provider associations from across the education, health and social care sectors, and the voluntary and community sector. This response reflects the consensus identified following two national consultation events held with over 50 of our members in December and January. These are listed in Annex A.
Members of these three coalitions strongly support the Green Paper’s intention to continue the transformation of children and young people’s mental health provision. The Green Paper’s proposals have the potential to both amplify and strengthen the direction already set by Future in Mind. We therefore hope that current and future work under the Green Paper’s proposals build on the principles already set, and agreed, in Future in Mind. Government reassurance that Future in Mind will continue to provide the foundations for the long-term strategy required to tackle the inequalities in meeting children and young people’s needs is crucial if national and local partners are to deliver on the vital improvement required.
Whilst we particularly welcome the collaborative approach between health and education in some aspects of the Green Paper’s proposals, there is a wider challenge of developing the long term strategic and sustainable approach to improving children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. We are very supportive of the Green Paper’s proposals to raise the profile of children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges. We are concerned, however, that without a more holistic and systemic approach, the preventative measures set out will be undermined by the absence of wider social and community-based support.
We believe there needs to be a wider strategy that focuses on tackling the major determinants of poor mental health – poverty, social inequality, poor housing and degraded communities, as evidenced in successive recent studies of children’s mental health and well-being, Millennium Cohort Studies, (2016, 2017, 2018). Without a long-term sustainable plan that includes the whole system and its workforce, there is a danger that the Paper’s key three proposals will flounder. If there is continued poor access to the wider support children, young people and their families require, the consequences will be the risk of worsening mental health and wellbeing for children and young people, rather than the laudable improvement the Government wishes for all. A range of evidence-based actions have already been recommended in a report commissioned by Public Health England, and a plan to enable their implementation would go a long way to enabling the Green Paper’s proposals to take root.