Supporting young people’s mental health is crucial, particularly through prevention and early intervention. On average, one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life and 50 per cent of mental health illnesses develop before the age of 14. Around one in ten children today have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem. Yet just 8 per cent of mental health budgets are spent on children and young people.
Children’s charity NSPCC and its ChildLine service, last year provided more than 295,000 counselling sessions for children and young people, many of whom are experiencing issues relating to mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
The government published its green paper on Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision in December. I sit on the Health and Social Care Select Committee which recently looked at the Green Paper with the Education Select Committee and concluded that the government’s plans lacked any ambition and will fail a generation. Questions were also raised over the Green Paper’s funding and whether it will amount to new investment.
The government must increase spending on mental health services, ring-fence budgets and increase the proportion of budgets that are spent on children and young people. The government must also ensure children and young people have access to a counselling service in every secondary school – commitments outlined in the manifesto I stood on at the last General Election.
The NSPCC handed a petition of 22,411 signatures to Downing Street in May calling for better support and I was pleased to sign and circulate to my MP colleagues a letter in support.
I very much hope that the government takes into account the concerns raised by the NSPCC as proposals are taken forward.