• Mental health provision for children

    I share constituents concern about mental health provision for children and at the recent General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to end the neglect of children’s mental health. I believe we must invest in early intervention by increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people. I also believe that schools-based counselling should be extended to all secondary schools. I am aware that YoungMinds and the National Children’s Bureau have drafted a Wellbeing in Schools Bill which aims to change the education system to make the wellbeing of students a priority. I note that the Schools (Mental Health and Wellbeing) Bill has now been introduced in the House of Lords. This Bill seeks to make provision for state-maintained schools to promote the mental health and well-being of their pupils alongside academic attainment. I will follow the progress of this Bill closely. I agree that children must be supported to be happy and healthy at school and I would like to see a new Index of Child Health to measure progress against international standards, and to report annually against key indicators such as mental health. While I welcome the current Government’s proposal to publish a Green Paper on Children and Young People’s Mental Health, I remain concerned that mental health funding is not reaching the frontline and that money intended for children’s mental health has been used to plug funding gaps in the wider NHS. It is very worrying that a recent report has found that 80% of NHS bosses fear they will have too little money this year to provide timely, high-quality care to the growing numbers of people seeking mental health support. We must ring-fence mental health budgets and I believe that the Government should invest properly in children’s mental health services by increasing the proportion of the mental health budget that is spent on children and young people. Thank you once again for contacting me about this very important issue. I can assure you I will continue to press for action to support children and young people with mental health problems.