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BPS Policy Unit

Young people's mental health - protection, prevention, and improvement

09 October 2017 | by BPS Policy Unit

Children and young people’s mental health (CYPMH) is currently a hot topic, receiving significant attention from, amongst others, the Prime Minster, the Secretary of State for Health, All Party Parliamentary Groups, frontline staff, external stakeholders, and the media.

There have been a plethora of government and third party reports on CYPMH including the Future in Mind (2015) which tackles the promotion, protection and improvement of children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Government’s response to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health accepts the Mental Health Taskforce recommendations and also commits to implementing the recommendations contained in Future in Mind.

Lord Layard, architect of the national IAPT programme, is advocating a new IAPT service for children and young people with mild to moderate mental health difficulties. This would be the next big step: a new school-based wing of CAMHS, funded by the NHS to the tune of £250m.

Much of current external policy is related to attending to the difficulties of those who are either service users or those on a waiting list, and a great deal has been made of introducing Mental Health First Aid Training as a preventative intervention.  Alas, this is nothing more than a stop gap measure – with little evidence of effective outcomes. See the Society’s Presidential statement on MH First Aid Training.

In addition, money promised to improve CYPMH has not reached the intended frontline services – without being ring-fenced the money has been spent to plug the gaps in NHS budgets elsewhere. Furthermore, the adverse impact of funding pressures on schools, including cutting school counsellors and reducing the ability to bring in external support, has no doubt had an adverse effect on the provision of support for school age children.

The joint Health and Education Select Committee inquiry into The Role of Education has made a number of recommendations, which undoubtedly will feed into the Government’s forthcoming Green Paper on CYPMH. These recommendations are:

  • Commitment to making PSHE a compulsory part of the curriculum
  • Commitment to whole school approaches
  • Senior leadership must embed well-being throughout their provision and culture
  • Inclusion of the personal development and well-being criteria in the Ofsted inspection framework
  • Training school and college staff MHFA
  • Introduce a structured approach to referrals from education providers to CAMHS
  • All schools and colleges to establish partnerships with mental health services
  • Schools should include education on social media as part of PSHE.

The Society’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Task and Finish Group comprises a cross-discipline group of experts, researchers and practitioners. Progress so far has included:

  • Meeting with Department of Health staff re: CYPMH /Green Paper
  • Establishing a link and providing information for the National Audit Office’s audit of value for money
  • Successfully negotiating to have two Society representatives on Care Quality Commission’s Review CYPMH Advisory Group
  • Contributing to a number of DfE/DH Round Table discussions
  • Publishing a Society Presidential statement on Mental Health First Aid in schools

The Research Board today (9 October 2017) approved the following Society’s briefing papers on, Children and Young People’s Mental Health: Schools and Colleges; and also, Children in Care and Offending.

The Society expects the government to publish its Green Paper on Children and Young People’s Mental Health shortly. We look forward to engaging with the process and providing a psychologically informed, evidence based response. Please watch this space

- Nigel Atter (Policy Advisor: Prevention)


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