Children’s Mental Health Week

Award-winning Radio City host Mick Coyle used his 100th Mental Health Monday show to highlight the human cost of childhood suicide in the most moving way.

The radio station came together with national support group Papyrus during Children’s Mental Health Week to lay out over 200 pairs of children’s shoes on the steps of St George’s Hall, commemorating the number of young lives lost to suicide in the last year.

I appeared on the first Mental Health Monday and on the 100th programme I raised the importance of investing in prevention if we are to achieve a city region with zero suicide.

Government plans, announced to tie in with Children’s Mental Health Week, to test different mental health approaches in 300 schools across the country are welcome, but the scale of the mental health crisis facing our young people demands leadership from across every government department.

However, as I uncovered in Parliament this week, despite the government saying the inter-ministerial group for mental health would co-ordinate action it last met 10 months ago and has no plans to meet again.

One-off initiatives that are not sustained over time will not match the scale of ambition required to make a real difference to children’s mental health.

I am a member of Parliament’s Health and Social Care Select Committee. Our joint report with the Education Select Committee found that the government’s approach was ‘failing a generation.’

To make a real, lasting difference we must use Children’s Mental Health Week to renew our commitment to prevent child and adolescent mental ill health in the first place, include all vulnerable groups, take pressure off teachers by putting mental health support in to schools, build the specialist workforce needed and provide the funding to underpin these vital changes.