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29/03/22 – The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign Is Holding The Government To Account!

By March 29, 2022No Comments

THE CHILD MENTAL HEALTH CHARTER CAMPAIGN IS HOLDING THE GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT!

The Health and Social Care Select Committee, Chaired by Jeremy Hunt MP, published its eighth report on 9th December 2021: ‘Children and Young People’s Mental Health.’

Earlier this month, the Government published an official response to the report and as Jeremy Hunt immediately press-released, failed to take decisions on half of the 25 published recommendations. As a result, The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign wrote to MPs who had previously been supportive to our aims and objectives and asked if any of them would table our Written Question (below):

‘To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care , if he will supply a decision on behalf of the Government on each of the 25 recommendations made by the select committee on Health and Social Care in its Eighth Report, Children and Young People’s Mental Health, HC 17, published on 9th December 2021; and if he will make a statement on that matter at the first available opportunity.’

A record number of 15 MPs agreed to table the Question and on 24th March 2022, it was answered by Gillian Keegan: Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care):

‘We welcome the Committee’s report. In our response to the Health and Social Care Committee’s report, we set out where we agreed with its recommendations or where we are taking forward the recommendations in part or full. We will be considering the recommendations in full during the development of a new long-term cross-Government plan for mental health. We are launching a wide-ranging discussion paper and call for evidence to support the development of the plan. The Committee’s inquiry and evidence from witnesses will be considered during this process.’ 

Firstly, I would like to put on record our huge thanks to the 15 MPs (and still counting!) who so kindly agreed to table the Question on our behalf. Had they not done so, there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that the Government would have released any information about its proposed ‘wide-ranging discussion paper’ or indeed that it would subsequently be calling for evidence from external organisations.

Make no mistake about it – as and when the discussion paper is launched, The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign will be first in line with ‘evidence.’ We have plenty to offer with much more to come! 

However, there have been far too many ‘false dawns’ from this Government with regard to its mental health strategy for children and young people and we know better than to rest on our laurels.

When, for example, is the Government intending to bring its long awaited Bill to reform the 1983 Mental Health Act to Parliament? 

Will any and all new proposals for the mental health of children and young people be statutory – or the usual muddle of ‘pilot schemes’ and geographically-based partial roll –out – with no basis in law to prevent them being swept away when ‘ financial resources’ run out? 

The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign remains on alert; not satisfied with the answer to this Question but immensely encouraged that 15 MPs were eager to help us to ask it!

There will be many more like this to come from us and we ask everyone who cares about the mental health of children and young people to help The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign to help children today.

Helen Clark: Director, the Child Mental Health Charter Campaign.