The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign has maintained non-stop pressure in Parliament via a series of initiatives, Questions, Motions and debates in our mission to ensure that children’s mental health needs are placed at the centre of policy both before during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are extremely grateful to Members of both Houses of Parliament who have supported our campaign with such energy and enthusiasm and do hope that they will continue to work with us.
The Charter Campaign has also worked with the APPG for a Fit and Healthy Childhood to persuade the Government to ensure that its reform of the 1983 Mental Health Act has the needs of children at its heart, based upon the Six Principles in our Charter.
However, the new White Paper: ‘Reforming the Mental Health Act’ does not engage with the needs of children in settings other than clinical and after an emergency meeting of the APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood, attendees have responded to the White Paper Consultation with many excellent submissions, arguing that children’s needs must be central to a reformed 21st century Mental Health Act
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have also argued consistently that the Government should announce a Covid Mental Health Recovery Strategy for Children and Young People and Helen Clark, Dr Lisa Cameron MP and Lord Philip Hunt made that case at a meeting with Secretary of State for Education the Right Hon Gavin Williamson MP and Nadine Dorries, the Minister for Mental Health.
Now the Government has made the following new announcements:
• An action plan will be published, setting out further measures to respond to and mitigate the impacts on mental health across the population ‘in due course’
• Access to mental health support for children and young people with emerging mental health issues will be facilitated via the establishment of new Mental Health Support Teams. The MHSTs are intended to provide early intervention on mild to moderate issues, as well as helping staff within a school or college setting to provide a ‘whole-school approach’
Helen Clark said:
‘These are welcome first steps. Of course, they do not go far enough and nothing is said about financial resources, but I am hopeful that they indicate the beginnings of a transition to nationwide mental health policy that will place children where they should be – at the heart of decision-making.
I urge everyone who wants mental health services to be properly reflective of children’s needs and interests in all settings to continue to keep up the pressure.
Write to your MP and don’t take ‘No’ for an answer! Ask them to write to Minsters themselves, raise Questions in the House and contribute to debates on the matter. Explain what you are seeing in your own homes, your communities and your places of work.
We would not have achieved these modest changes had we accepted ‘No’ for an answer!
We have an excellent case and the door to change has been unlocked.
Let’s throw it wide open now!
By Helen Clark: Campaign Manager for the Child Mental Health Charter Campaign and Lead Author for the APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood 4th March, 2021