Thousands of children to miss out on mental health support

Government's proposal will provide no help to the majority of those children who desperately need it.

The Government's proposed Green Paper on Transforming Children and Young People's Mental Health, though welcome lacks ambition and will provide no help to the majority of those children who desperately need it.

We, the Education and Health and Social Care Select Committees, have found that the narrow scope of the Government's Green Paper does not take several vulnerable groups into account. 

The proposals put more pressure on the teaching workforce without sufficient resources, and the timetable for implementation ignores hundreds of thousands of children over the next twelve years.

We are also concerned that the funding for the Green Paper's proposals is not guaranteed and contingent on an unspecified level of success.

Half of all mental health conditions first occur by age 14, and three quarters by age 24.

At least one in ten children are living with some form of diagnosable mental health condition. Mental health issues often persist into adulthood, leading to individual harm and wider societal costs. 

The Government Green Paper fails to consider how to prevent mental health difficulties in the first place. We want to see more evidence that Government will join up services in a way which places children and young people at their heart.

We are disappointed that the "Trailblazer" pilots will only cover a fifth to a quarter of the country by 2022/23. 

Exam pressure and social media can have adverse effects on young people's mental health

In a discussion forum we held with young people, participants told us that high-stakes exams have adverse effects on their mental health and well-being. The Government needs to gather independent evidence concerning the impact of exam pressure on young people.

Young people excluded from school seem much more likely to have social, emotional and mental health needs, yet the Government's Green Paper does not address this issue.

The Government must focus on the increase in pupils being excluded with mental health needs and how the mental health needs of excluded pupils are being met.

The full impact of social media on mental health is unknown.

Young people, during our discussion forum, shared both positive and negative impacts of social media on their mental health. We have even been told by experts that we do not know whether people's mental health is worse because of the social media or whether social media is their coping mechanism for their mental health. 

There is to be a working group of social media and digital sector companies in partnership with the Government and we look forward to seeing the results of their work.

One third of 18 year olds drop out of mental health support rather than transfer to adult services.

Young people are falling through the gaps and not receiving the services they need as they enter adulthood. At age 18, young people transition to adult mental health services. But a far more appropriate age appears to be 25. 

The Government must commit to a full assessment of the current transition arrangements between child and adult mental health services. In addition there needs to be a distinct and separate set of proposals for looked after children accessing mental health services.

Early years brain development is a key factor for a child's future

The Green Paper says little about mental health of the 0-5 year age group. Opportunities are being missed to promote emotional resilience and prevent mental health and well-being problems later in life. There must be consideration given to the important role that health visitors and children's centres can have in promoting emotional wellbeing in the early years.

Both the health and education services are under great strain with significantly stretched resources, and workforce recruitment and retention concerns. 

Half of school leaders appear to have cut back on mental health support services. 

Staff need support within their school or college to ensure that their role is balanced with their normal duties. The Government must ensure that the existing CAMHS workforce is not overburdened by the demands of the Green Paper.

The long timeframes involved in the Government's proposed strategy will leave hundreds of thousands of children and young people unable to benefit from the proposals. 

The Government has two months to respond to our report. To read more depth and detail about our recommendations, read our report: The Government's Green Paper on mental health: failing a generation.

Find out more about the Health and Social Care Committee and their inquiries here.

Find out more about the Education Committee and their inquiries here.