CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH WEEK DEBATE
HOUSE OF COMMONS: 6th February 2020
The debate was held by Shadow Minister (International Development) Preet Gill MP and the Government reply was given by Nadine Dorries, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care.
Other MPs contributing were:
Julian Lewis (Con) Jim Shannon (Shadow DUP Spokesperson, Human Rights, Shadow DUP Spokesperson, Health) Lyn Brown (Lab: Shadow Minister, Treasury) Lisa Cameron (Shadow SNP Spokesperson, Mental Health).
The full debate can be accessed at:
Preet Gill MP wrote an article previewing the debate on Politics Home. Her main points were:
- More transparency is needed about the level of investment that the Government will be putting into tackling mental ill health through the health service
- Recent NHS data has identified that one in eight 5-19 year olds have a mental health difficulty; the proportion has risen slightly over recent years
- Children’s Mental Health Services require proper resourcing. 33% of children (and young people) referred in 2018/19 were still on waiting lists at the end of that year
- We need to address the huge shortages of mental health professionals
- In the last two years alone, there has been an increase of 238,000 patient ‘interactions’ with mental health services, yet the mental health workforce has barely increased
- A recent survey by the BMA found that almost two thirds of nurses said that on their last shift there was a shortage of one or more nursing staff
- Investment and political will must be directed to the provision of preventative and early intervention services
- 60% of local authority areas have seen a real-terms fall in spending on mental health services for children who come under the ‘low-level’ bracket
- If we do not support children at the very earliest stage, we will feel the impact later down the line when the emergency services are forced to step in
- In Edgbaston alone in 2019, 90% of schools saw an increase in staff and students suffering from mental health problems
- The children of parents who are recipient of low-income benefits are almost twice as likely to have a diagnosable mental health condition
In Nadine Dorries’ response to Preet Gill and other MPs, she referred in some detail to trailblazing schemes roll-out and also said that:
‘The Prime Minister has announced his absolute commitment to mental health.’
Preet Gill in her speech called for:
‘A children’s wellbeing commissioner, or similar, with real teeth, powers and resources to work across Departments.’
There was no mention made of whether or not the forthcoming reform of the 1983 Mental Health Act will place the needs of children firmly at the heart of the legislation.
This above is, and must remain, our campaigning imperative.