28 September 2018 | by Guest
In this guest post Dave Traxson, Chair of C.O.P.E. and Associate Member of the DECP Committee, outlines the aims and agenda of the group, which held is inaugural meeting in June 2018.
C.O.P.E is a group of child mental health professionals, which includes several members of the DECP/BPS amongst its active participants and officers, at least four of whom have been long standing committee members of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology, and another a recent President of the BPS:
Other members include academics, representatives of educational and mental health professional bodies, campaigning journalists and politicians, and the group is sponsored by three MPs: Eleanor Smith, Thelma Walker and John McDonnell.
Our primary aim is to change public policy in key areas of child and adolescent mental health, and an attempt to initiate this change was made as part of the consultation process for the new NICE Guidelines.
The BPS requested that NICE should consider recommending a ban on medicating children with psycho-stimulants who are under the age of five years old.
As a member of that committee I ensured that this was actively debated, culminating in a compromise three-stage pathway being introduced to better safeguard very young children, prior to its publication in March 2018.
Our C.O.P.E. mission statement clearly articulates our collective beliefs well and includes this area of policy:
We share the view that a caring and morally mindful society must better safeguard children by allowing them to develop their unique personalities and behaviours without a first response to prescribe psychiatric drugs for their behavioural difficulties.
We especially believe that children under the age of five should not be prescribed psychiatric drugs if their behaviour is the only concern.
Through C.O.P.E.’s agreed objectives, which are below, as well as a newly launched Parliamentary Petition, we strive to reinvigorate the discussion on a ban for pre-school children and:
We have just launched an important new petition to help mobilise support amongst the public and other professionals for our fourth objective which we feel is critical to our collective societal values.
In addition, as a group we have recently written to The Guardian, in response to an article suggesting an increase in medicating more children, with a letter entitled Meds not the only answer for ADHD (published August 2018).
Please help us to better safeguard children, which is our shared primary duty, and challenge the inappropriate use of psychiatric drugs in the young by signing the petition and supporting our objectives through professional discussions in mental health teams and childrens’ services.