My Lords, following hot on the heels of our excellent debate last week on young people’s experience of mental health crisis care, I am delighted that today we are able to debate the Government’s response to the children and young people’s mental health task force’s report Future in Mind. Perhaps the focus we now have in your Lordships’ House on mental health—and, recently, on children and young people’s mental health in particular—shows that the tag “The Cinderella of Cinderella services”, which is often used in debates in this House, is starting to become a thing of the past. Let us hope that is indeed the case, but let us also remain vigilant so we can feel confident that the good intentions of the task force’s report will turn into a reality for the alarmingly high number of children and young people in this country experiencing mental health problems.
I start by thanking all the members of the children and young people’s mental health task force for producing an excellent report. Since its publication in March this year, it has clearly had a major impact on mental health policy. In his March Budget, the Chancellor announced that mental health services for children and young people would receive an additional £1.25 billion in funding over the next five years. This amounts to £250 million annually, £l5 million of which is for perinatal services, the rest being for children and young people’s mental health services. This is in addition to the announcement in the Autumn Statement of £150 million over five years for eating disorder and self-harm services. This new investment is much to be welcomed, and I do so wholeheartedly.
However we need to remember the broader context. It is no secret that historically CAMHS have been neglected and starved of cash, perennially losing out to other health services deemed to be of higher priority. So we should keep in mind that, even with the additional money, funding for CAMHS makes up only 8% of the total mental health budget, even though children and young people make up 23% of the population. Given this, it is more important than ever that we examine how these funds will be used.
The additional £1.25 billion of funding will be directed to local areas once they have completed and published local transformation plans. In order to develop these plans, the lead commissioning agency, which is most likely to be the clinical commissioning group, needs to work with health and well-being boards, schools, children, young people and families in the locality to decide precisely where the investment should be targeted. To have real teeth, it is vital that transformation plans contain local access and waiting time targets in line with the ambitions contained in the NHS five-year plan, and address the issue of choice of provider for children and young people, including in the rollout of access to psychological therapy.
Considering that most families do not currently feel that CAMHS is anything like meeting their needs, it will be particularly important that CCGs communicate directly with children and their families to help determine the areas where additional investment is most needed. Yet the proposed timeline for formulating these transformation plans, which are to be completed by the end of September, is very short and, given the time of year that they are expected to formulate these plans—between July and September—one has to ask whether is it realistic to expect CCGs to be able to engage with schools, young people and their families in a meaningful way.
I was pleased to see a specific commitment of £15 million per year to improve perinatal mental health services. The task force reports that maternal perinatal mental health problems carry a long-term cost to society of about £10,000 per birth, and nearly three-quarters of this cost has to do with adverse impacts on the child. For example, the odds of a child developing depression are nearly five times greater if their mother experienced perinatal depression. Such outcomes are avoidable. Specialist mother and baby units across the country are delivering excellent results helping new mothers with psychiatric problems bond with their babies. The NSPCC suggests that one in 10 children would benefit if all new mothers with mental illness had access to programmes such as these mother and baby units. Given this, it is simply unacceptable that currently only 15% of localities provide perinatal mental health services at the level recommended in national guidance and that 40% provide no service at all. Worse still, only 3% of CCGs have a strategy for commissioning perinatal mental health services.
Turning to preventive work, I am also pleased to see that the Government have responded to calls from the task force for schools to take a greater role in promoting good mental health and fostering resilience—something we on these Benches have long called for. Some local areas are already doing very good work in this field. For example, Kingston Council decided to appoint health link workers, part of whose role is to help schools and young people identify mental health issues at an early stage. Working in this way, they are able to address issues such as depression, self-harm and eating disorders early on, so that they do not become a bigger problem later. The health link workers are also able to educate staff to recognise the signs, talk directly to the pupils and try to get them help.
CAMHS contacts in schools to act as liaison between staff, students, and community CAMHS. If implemented effectively, this programme has the potential to provide more direct entry points into specialist mental health services and to allow school staff to gain insight into how to cultivate a healthy learning environment.
Schools can provide a very valuable referral route towards specialist services but, as the task force report highlights, this will not reach all the children who need mental health care, particularly the most vulnerable children. The charity YoungMinds reports that one in three young people say that they do not know where to turn to seek help. Indeed, the process of accessing specialist services can be lengthy and confusing. Programmes such as the Well Centre in London offer an alternative. It holds open drop-in hours for young people aged 13 to 20 three afternoons a week, when they can access specialist mental health support easily and confidentially.
For others, accessing care is difficult because of disability or other difficulties in their lives. For example, learning disabled children are likely to have particular difficulty accessing care. Barnardo’s reports that children in care are five times more likely to develop childhood mental health problems, and 10 times more likely than their peers to have significant learning disabilities, meaning that although they need support the most, they are also less likely to be able to access it. I particularly commend the work of the task force’s sub-group, which looked in depth at the issue of vulnerable groups and inequalities. As a result of its work, the task force report makes it clear that in order to engage the most vulnerable children, commissioners and providers across education, health, social services and youth offending teams will need to take an active role in engaging the children and young people who are the least likely to engage with existing services.
The task force found good examples of workers trained to deliver support in a flexible, approachable and joined-up way to help reach some of the most needy young people. What really brought this to life for me was the case study of Jay, a 17 year-old cannabis dealer involved in gang activity, who was mistrustful of professionals, fearing that talking to him would lead to him being put in prison. His mental health had deteriorated since witnessing several stabbings in his area. He failed to show up for various appointments, so his case was closed. But Jay’s youth offending team worker identified a youth worker in the community who already knew Jay and his family, and they began to meet Jay in places where he felt comfortable, such as at his favourite fish and chip shop. Eventually, the YOT worker was able to gain Jay’s trust sufficiently to convince him to begin treatment for substance abuse. Where most services would have given up on Jay, these workers were able to reach him and put him on a path to recovery from both substance abuse and mental ill health. How do the Government intend to respond to the task force’s recommendations about reaching out to the most vulnerable children and young people?
In my view, the task force report Future in Mind is a landmark document in the much-needed improvement of mental health services in England. My hope is that it fuels transformational change not just for CAMHS but for all the sectors involved in helping young people access appropriate and effective mental health care. The Government’s commitment of additional funding is very welcome and the development of transformation plans in this area is promising, but there is still much to do to ensure that the additional funding is spent to best effect. Will the Department of Health and NHS England therefore commit to publishing an annual progress report on the implementation of
Future in Mind
My Lords, parity of esteem between physical and mental illness within the NHS is easier to parrot than to achieve, yet its achievement is morally, personally and practically vital, with an urgency no clearer seen than within young people with mental health problems, as the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler of Enfield, pointed out. It is morally vital because it is always a wrong to sideline or neglect one health problem versus another; personally vital because a young person helped through will be a happier young person, just like someone cured of a physical disease or a crippling condition; and practically vital because better care for the mentally ill young should diminish the need later for physical healthcare because of harmful drinking, drugs, obesity, self-harming, risky personal behaviour and all the rest. Therefore it makes pretty good pragmatic common sense, and if handled in this way will enable young people to improve their contribution to the way we live now. Of course, at its most utilitarian—I am sometimes utilitarian—it will also save money in the medium and longer term, which makes much economic sense for the nation.
Those, therefore, are the three reasons why I am an enthusiast for the direction of travel outlined by this Children and Young People’s Mental Health Task Force report, which has not received the public attention that it might have done had it not been published during the long-run pandemonium of the never-ending general election campaign. However, happily, from my point of view at least, we have a Government with a clear-cut mandate to deal with the long-running problems of young people with mental health. “No health problem sidelined” should be in NHS terms as resonant a phrase as is “No child left behind” in US educational circles. No sidelining—no one left behind.
Since 1945, mental health generally and young people’s mental health in particular has never been in the clearest focus. That is a failure on the part of all of us, at both ends of the Palace of Westminster, over decades. Thus, only perhaps a third at best of young people with a diagnosed mental health problem get full-on treatment, which is too low. Imagine if that was the case for young people diagnosed with cancer, and think of the outcry there would be because help was not available. It is good that so much of the treatment that occurs is of course now outside of longer-stay institutional settings, which I am thoroughly in favour of. However, it is also interesting to reflect that that began only just over half a century ago, back in 1961, when the then Health Minister, Enoch Powell, focused on the asylums of the day, brooded over by those towering chimneys and huge water towers, and started to shut them. However, it took pretty well 20 years after the National Health Service had been founded in 1945 for that process to begin.
We are still in a period of sidelining and stigma for some of the mentally ill young. I find that all the more disturbing, as some 50% of lifetime mental illness starts before the age of 14, and 75% of mental illness overall sets in by the age of 18. Therefore it is no slick judgment on my part to say that our mental health problems as compared to our physical health problems are “young people’s problems” in essence, from when they first set in, unlike most physical problems—although that is sometimes the case for the young, too. If untreated, they roll on into the mental health problems of adulthood, becoming the biggest single cause of disability and, I am also told, the leading single cause of sickness absence in the United Kingdom. Therefore it is a major economic problem. Failure to treat leads to the further compounding of later misery, illness and economic cost. There are lots of moving parts, which are very hard to simplify.
All that must be set against the neo-exponential explosion of additional pressures on young women and men that have grown over the last two or three decades due to the parallel explosion of social media writ large, from innocent selfie to internet troll and back again, leading all too often to mental pressures and, at worst, teenage suicides, that we see among those who started off as mentally ill.
The compounding effects of social media and internet pressures have not yet been fully recognised by wider policy thinkers as they should have been, or by some policymakers. When more results come, they may well point to a growth rather than a diminution of young people’s untreated mental health problems. Perhaps the Minister—if not now, because I have not given him notice, then later by letter—can let us know the Government’s judgment on the effects on mental health caused by the growth of social media, and the relevant studies that should be being done if they are not. It is easy to say, “More research should be done”—it keeps researchers very happy—but we need to know the facts.
These issues have to be dealt with—the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, has been very generous in her praise for what is happening about funding—within a ring-fenced if huge NHS budget. I do not intend tonight to press for yet more; we must live within our taxpayers’ means—I hope the Minister is pleased with that—and pay our debts. However, I hope that the Minister can give a clearer indication of the next steps that the Government propose within the tight constraints on public expenditure, which I support in full.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the well-considered words of the noble Lord, Lord Patten, who of course quite rightly emphasises that there is a moral and an economic case here. The moral case is that unhappy children grow up into very unhappy, miserable adults, and the economic case is that unhappy children grow up into very unhealthy, unhappy and often troubling adults. Of course, the prison system is full of such adults, and that costs the state many tens of thousands of pounds each year per person. I am also very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for again bringing us back to the issue of mental health, in particular the mental health of children and adolescents. She is indefatigable and I am so grateful to her for her work. I welcome the Minister to his portfolio. I know that it is some time since he took it, but I welcome him, and I look forward to having these discussions with him in future—I hope I can say that.
This is a very timely debate, an observation which I make particularly from my position as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers. Two important reports have come out this month on looked-after children’s mental health. The first report, A New Vision, came out on
“The care system is not just about removing children from harmful situations and putting a roof over their heads. Many children in care have been seriously abused or neglected, and rely on local authorities as corporate parents to help them get back on their feet. Ultimately, the care system should help children overcome their past experience and forge the lasting and positive relationships that we know are vital to their future wellbeing”.
The NSPCC also briefed me this afternoon on a report coming out this Monday on achieving the emotional well-being of young people in care. This is the result of work it has done consulting people involved in the NSPCC childline and looking at case studies and at the costs of failing to meet the mental health needs of 13 to 16 year-olds. Therefore, this is a timely debate.
I have three requests to put to the Minister. First, I hope that he might consider arranging a meeting with the leads at the Department of Health and the Department for Education on looked-after children, including himself, if he has the time, together with me and the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, given her role as chair of CAFCASS, so that we can discuss what practical steps might be taken to improve the mental health of looked-after children.
Secondly, will he look at conducting another survey of the mental health of looked-after children similar to that carried out in 2004? It was a thorough and deep survey published mainly by the Office for National Statistics, and it was very helpful in judging the scale of the mental health needs of looked-after children.
Thirdly, can the Minister say—perhaps he would like to write to me—how our specialist looked-after children’s mental health service provision is performing? There has been a lot of concern that these specialist groups may be suffering under the austerity measures. They are quite expensive to run but they are invaluable. The support that they provide, in particular to children’s homes, can make a big difference. I would be grateful if the noble Lord could write to me on how these groups are doing.
I am very grateful to the authors of this extremely helpful report. As has been said, this Government and, previously, the coalition Government have shown great leadership in looking at mental health and, more specifically and more recently, at child and adolescent mental health. Today, I attended a conference on early intervention and I thought about the importance of the leadership of the right honourable Iain Duncan Smith and Graham Allen MP, as well as others such as Andrea Leadsom MP. Their consistent championing of early intervention over a number of years has raised the matter much higher up the political agenda and has brought in more funding for it. I hope that we will see the same thing in this area through the championing of mental health by various Members of Parliament.
I turn to the report and shall focus on Chapter 6 on care for the most vulnerable. I begin by challenging one particular notion. I am concerned that we sometimes overvalue an evidence-based approach. It is important, but it is also important to value professional judgment—not in some way to fetter our humanity because we are busy waiting for the next piece of evidence-based research to be produced. Perhaps I may pray in aid the experience of Louise Casey. Many years ago when she was the tsar for homelessness, she complained, “I shall be really annoyed if I am presented with one more bit of evidence-based research from civil servants”. Looking at her working in practice, she has vision, experience and understanding, as well as a drive to take things forward. Balancing that sort of approach with an evidence-based approach is most important.
Those on the continent are not very interested in evidence-based approaches or in gathering data. In terms of looked-after children, they have very developed social pedagogues and highly trained and highly qualified reflective practitioners. Fundamental to their training is the ability to make and keep relationships with vulnerable children. Therefore, they learn skills such as cookery, art and music to engage these young people. Theoretically, as we all understand, the key to good mental health and recovery from trauma is the ability to keep and maintain an enduring relationship—to learn to endure in intimacy. Research on the continent into the educational outcomes for looked-after children is very positive, and it appears that the children perform better. Therefore, there is more than one way to approach these things.
I see that my time is about to run out but I want to pray in aid briefly the consultation and liaison mental health model, which is referred to in the report. It is important to provide staff in children’s homes and foster carers with good clinical support. They are the ones who see the children day to day and build relationships with them, so they should be supported on a regular basis by excellent mental health professionals, as the report suggests.
When consulted, children in care say, “I want one person to follow me all the way through care. I don’t want multiple placements. I don’t want multiple social workers. I don’t want multiple schools. I want continuity of relationships”. If this recommendation is adopted, we will see many more healthy young people leaving care. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for introducing this debate, for the excellent work of the task group and for the commitment that Her Majesty’s Government have already made to this area.
I also pay tribute to the many excellent charities that are working in this area. Just round the corner from where I live in St Albans is a small charity. I do not suppose that any of your Lordships will have heard of it. It is called Youth Talk and it was set up some years ago, in 1997, by a local GP after she realised that there was a need for a safe place where young people could come for counselling and support. In the intervening years, more than 2,000 young people have used the service. Every year around 190 young people are seen and up to 50 sessions are offered each week. The service is free at the point of access to all 14 to 25 year-olds. It is one of the many unsung charities in our nation that are offering support in this extremely important area. Alongside the crucial statutory work, we need to think about encouraging the voluntary sector.
However, there is still a great deal to be done. As the former Minister Norman Lamb admitted about a year ago, for children and mental health services the prevalence data were out of date and the commissioning services were fragmented. It is good that some of these deficiencies are now being addressed. Therefore, I am supportive of the proposal in the Future in Mind report that good research in the form of a prevalence survey should be conducted by the Department of Health every five years. That would give us a wide range of data, including factors such as ethnicity and socioeconomic background, with a special emphasis on vulnerable groups.
I want to comment on two other areas. First, I strongly support the recommendation that,
“designated professionals”, should,
“liaise with agencies and ensure that services are targeted and delivered in an integrated way for children and young people from vulnerable backgrounds”.
We are all aware of the problem of statutory and voluntary agencies working in silos, resulting in young people falling through the net. The troubled families programme has shown us the value of having a champion —a co-ordinator whose role is to focus on getting change and who can draw together all the different parties to ensure that the help can be delivered effectively and consistently. Without such “designated professionals” who are given the appropriate power and resources, it is unlikely that we are going to solve the problems that have dogged this area for such a long time.
I also want to commend to your Lordships’ House a campaign launched last Friday by the Children’s Society called Seriously Awkward. The campaign is based on empirical research of more than 1,000 teenagers of 16 and 17 years of age, and it relates directly to many of the points made in the Future in Mind report. However, it argues cogently that there are a number of areas that need urgent attention. In particular, the campaign points out that the legislation relating to 16 and 17 year-olds is highly inconsistent and is causing problems regarding where they fit and who is responsible for them. We need some clarity in this area. The campaign argues that the Government should establish a right for 16 and 17 year-olds to be entitled to support from CAMHS when they need it. This support must be available as early as possible, and long before mental health needs become acute. It argues that the Department of Health should, as it is in the process of recommissioning a new prevalence study, include 16 and 17 year-olds in that study, and there seems to be some lack of clarity about that.
Tailored information should be produced by CAMHS providers about mental health symptoms and conditions for adolescents to support them in understanding their experiences. Information also needs to be available to their families, to help them both in parenting adolescents appropriately and meeting their emotional needs. In addition, services working with vulnerable adolescents should consider their mental health needs within the family context and offer appropriate support to the young person and their family, working together.
Local authorities and health and well-being boards should evaluate the levels of mental health support available to vulnerable groups of young people. The commissioning of effective mental health services needs to be underpinned by robust and reliable data on the use of mental health services, particularly by vulnerable groups.
Finally, at present, support for victims of child sexual abuse is often dependent upon children displaying symptoms of diagnosable conditions. Child victims should, as a matter of course, receive support to help them overcome the trauma of abuse. Therefore, what are the Government doing to ensure that older adolescents have access to mental health support? Will the Government ensure that 16 and 17 year-olds are included in the upcoming mental health prevalence study of children and young people’s mental health? Will the Government ensure that some of the additional funding is ring-fenced to ensure that victims of child sex abuse have access to mental health support?
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Tyler of Enfield on introducing this important debate. We have heard some very thoughtful speeches, ranging widely across the subject. My noble friend called for wise spending of very scarce resources and emphasised the need to consult children themselves and their families when putting together the transformation plans that are so important. She called for better access to services for young people, particularly the most vulnerable groups, and for some monitoring as to how well we are doing through an annual report.
The noble Lord, Lord Patten, emphasised the importance of parity of esteem for physical and mental health and called for early intervention. He was particularly concerned about the effects of social media on young people—something that of course did not affect your Lordships when we were growing up.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in his usual way championed, as he has done so wonderfully over the years, looked-after children. He called for services to take account of their particular vulnerability to mental health problems and their need for emotional well-being, which they may well not have grown up with given their difficult backgrounds.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans talked about the good work of charities. He called for more data about prevalence and emphasised the difficult position of 16 and 17 year-olds being very inconsistent in legislation.
For my own part, like the noble Lord, Lord Patten, I am particularly interested in the prevention of mental health problems. Like him, I believe that that is the cost-effective approach. There is so much evidence that perinatal mental health, proper parental attachment and early intervention are not only more effective for the human beings involved but more cost effective for the taxpayer. So I welcome those elements of the report that focus on early intervention.
My noble friend emphasised perinatal mental health services, and I would like to start by asking the Minister what progress has been made on the recommendation that there should be a specialised mental health clinician available to all perinatal units by 2017? How much emphasis is given in antenatal classes, for example, to making mothers aware that they need to focus on their own well-being, minimise stress and ensure that they bond well with their baby when it arrives? One cannot start too early when fostering good mental as well as physical health.
There are some excellent charities working in this field, such as OXPIP, which focus on good attachment. They have learned many lessons about what works well in relation to identifying poor attachment and addressing the situation. What is being done to ensure that these lessons are being used all over the country?
The report focused on the need for early support initiatives, and it is clear that health visitors are key to this ambition. However, some health visitors have been in the profession for many years. Although their long experience is enormously valuable, since it allows them to develop deep knowledge and good judgment, it may also mean that they have not had time in their busy schedule to keep up with the latest on early intervention. Can the Minister assure us that they will be allowed enough time for this sort of continuous professional development?
Learning the lessons of what works is a key element of the new HeadStart initiative funded by the Big Lottery Fund and this is to be very welcomed. The project is focused on a key group, those aged between 10 and 14, to better equip them to deal with difficult life experiences and develop their resilience as protection against future events that might damage their mental health. Since half of all adult mental health patients first had problems before they were 14, this is exactly the right target group. Although £75 million sounds like a lot of money, there is a big task ahead. I understand that 12 pilot projects are under way, providing early support to children who need it, both in and out of school. Lessons learned will be shared with schools, youth groups and decision-makers. Partners include, as they should, GPs, local authorities, schools, youth groups et cetera. Some of these are used to working in partnerships, but others are not—I hope that the worst come up to the standard of the best.
Schools, of course, play an enormous role. With others in your Lordships’ House, I have long called for compulsory PSHE in schools, starting early in an age-appropriate way. Some people think that we are just talking about sexual health and relationships, but we are not. We are talking about developing self-esteem, self-confidence and resilience, as well as the life skills and knowledge to help the child cope with the modern world when he or she leaves school. Will the Minister go back to his colleague the Secretary of State for Education—who I think has more of an open mind about the matter than her predecessor—and encourage her to change the Government’s mind about this, because it is a vital weapon in our armoury against the epidemic of mental health issues among young people?
The task force also recommended that there should be a CAMHS contact in all schools. Earlier this year, the Department for Education proposed to implement pilot schemes in 15 areas. Can the Minister say whether this has begun and how the schemes’ success will be assessed, since we have heard nothing about it since March?
Many schools, of course, are not waiting for government to catch up. They have counsellors, anti-bullying programmes and partnerships with excellent organisations, such as Place2Be, which does wonderful work in schools at a very moderate cost. However, it is not easy for hard-pressed head teachers to find a room for them to work in and the small amount of money to fund their programmes.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, talked about the importance of training those professionals who work with looked-after children. But I have become very concerned just recently to realise how few doctors are trained in psychiatry in their initial training. Given that one quarter to 50% of patients presenting to GPs have mental health problems at the root of their illness, it really is important that we have some consistency across the training of doctors in this country, and in particular those Jacks of all medical trades, the very important GPs working in primary care.
I await the Minister’s response with interest, particularly on those questions about prevention.
My Lords, declaring my health interest, I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler of Enfield, on obtaining this short debate and her excellent contribution to it, and thank noble Lords for all the excellent contributions to this debate this evening.
Child mental health is rightly now very high on the health agenda and there is a huge interest in mental health among the public, for both children and adults, as an ambition for parity of esteem between physical and mental health is progressed.
I shall give just a few facts and figures. According to the 2004 data—the most recent available—one child in 10 has a mental health problem. About half of those children, 5% of all children, meet the criteria for a diagnosis of conduct disorder: severe and persistent behavioural problems. A further 15% of children have a mild or moderate behavioural problem that has an impact on their future health and life chances.
Mental health problems during childhood tend to continue into adult life, especially if untreated. Children with behavioural problems also experience poor outcomes in school and in employment and have a high risk of getting involved in crime as young adults.
However, it is estimated that only 25% of children with a mental health problem get treatment of any kind. As we have heard, the previous Government’s response was the creation of the mental health task force, which reported in March 2015. Its excellent report, Future in
, was a template for change in services for children and young people. It made 49 recommendations for better support for children’s mental health. They included far-reaching changes to CAMHS provision, greater emphasis on the roles of schools and earlier intervention when children become unwell. Crucially, it called for every local area to be required to produce a transformation plan for improved children’s mental health care.
It is very welcome that in the March Budget investment of £1.25 billion was announced, to be provided over five years. That is £250 million a year for CAMHS, perinatal mental health care and employment support for adults. It equates to only about £1 million per clinical commissioning group per year. I would be grateful if the Minister would comment on whether he is confident that this is a sufficient injection of funds for each CCG to meet Future in Mind’s 49 recommendations at a local level.
As we have heard, plans have also been announced for a new prevalence survey for children’s mental health, replacing the 2004 data which are still in use. Again, this is very welcome and will allow for much more effective and efficient planning of the range of services required for children and those in transition to adulthood.
Another welcome move is the banning of the use of police cells for children detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. I am very pleased that the Minister assured the House that the use of police cells would be at zero by
While the Future in Mind report is welcome, how will the Government ensure that it is implemented in full across the country? Will it be given a prominent place in the next NHS mandate, and how will local areas be held to account for producing and implementing robust transformational plans? Such plans will be crucial if we are going to make a step change for child and adolescent mental health services at a local level.
Most importantly, will the Government set out clear expectations of schools to promote mental health—for example, through social and emotional learning—and empower Ofsted to include it in its inspections? Should we perhaps follow the example of Wales and make access to counselling mandatory in secondary schools? My own report on mental health and the criminal justice system made clear the importance of mental health awareness training for all staff in schools, but, obviously, principally teachers—not to become experts in mental health but to be effective passporters of children to appropriate CAMHS or other services before their health problems may lead them into trouble.
I also commend the Big Lottery Fund’s HeadStart scheme that the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, rightly pointed to and its investment of £75 million in 12 trial sites. This is an important new intervention which will be monitored and, I hope, rolled out more broadly as a consequence.
Finally, perhaps I may ask the Minister about parenting programmes, as recommended by NICE. These have been found to be extremely effective in addressing conduct disorder, as I identified earlier. The cost of such programmes is estimated to be just £1,750 per child, against a lifetime cost of not taking action of £175,000 per child. Can the Minister therefore explain the logic behind the Government’s decision to cut the public health budget by £200 million, a budget which helps fund such programmes?
This debate on the task force’s key recommendations is important and timely. I know that all interested Members in this House will ensure that we monitor the implementation of its key recommendations to ensure that children and adolescents benefit in future from a much more effective mental health service.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, on securing this important debate. Mental health is a key plank of this Government’s health policy and will certainly be highlighted in the mandate given to NHS England. Whether or not there will be an annual report, I can assure the noble Baroness that there will be clear progress reports on implementation.
A number of noble Lords said in relation to parity of esteem that words are cheap. The noble Lord, Lord Patten, said that we have parroted those words for far too long without putting resources behind them. Even after this new investment, if one today compares the kind of treatment that young children receive if they have cancer with the kind of treatment they get for severe psychosis or eating disorders, even though it may no longer be a Cinderella service I am afraid that the tag “Cinderella” would still be there until we have proven otherwise.
I am happy to confirm this Government’s commitment to transforming children and young people’s mental health and well-being. The Future in Mind report, published on
“However in taking action there are twin dangers to avoid. One will be to focus too narrowly on targeted clinical care, ignoring the wider influences and causes of rising demand, overmedicalising our children along the way. The opposite risk would be to defuse effort by aiming so broadly, lacking focus and ducking the hard task of setting clear priorities”.
There is a real danger that one could fall between those two stools if one were not careful.
I can confirm that there will be an additional £1.25 billion allocated for improving children’s and young people’s mental health over the lifetime of this Parliament. This is in addition to the £150 million announced in the autumn Budget. The noble Lord, Lord Patten, and others made the important point that we are talking with mental health not only about a human tragedy but about a huge economic waste as well. On both counts this should be a major priority for this Government.
The first step in delivering the vision set out in Future in Mind will be the development of local transformation plans which will be produced collaboratively by local areas. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, both mentioned the importance of local charities and voluntary groups in this area. We will not in any way ignore the vital role that they play. I am not familiar with the work of HeadStart, to which the noble Baroness and the noble Lord opposite referred, but I would like to find out about it after this debate. These plans will have an emphasis on local partnering and joint commissioning. I take on board the noble Lord’s comments about the number of different CCGs. When one spreads the money around CCGs it does not look all that much. I am not sure whether the noble Lord is suggesting that we should reduce the number of CCGs or increase the money.
NHS England and the De[apartment of Health are working with partners to jointly produce national guidance to support local areas to develop these plans. NHS England aims to publish its guidance in July.
I was struck by two comments in Future in Mind by two young people. One was:
“You have to fit into their paths and none of their paths fit you”.
The other was:
“Mental health isn’t a one size fits all treatment, it really depends on the person”.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans laid particular stress on the importance of co-ordinated care.
The Care Quality Commission report, From the Pond into the Sea, highlights the complexity and cliff edge that many children experience as they transition from children’s to adult services. We should be particularly focused on this area.
As well as the development of the local transformation plans, I am pleased to say that progress is also being made against many more of the Future in Mind proposals. We are expanding the highly regarded Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme. This is due to increase access and coverage across England from 68% to 100% by 2018.
We are introducing waiting times. In particular, this will include a target of treatment within two weeks for more than 50% of people of all ages experiencing a first episode of psychosis. It was here that I thought that if you substituted “psychosis” for the word “cancer”, we would not be standing here feeling all that good about ourselves. It is not enough, but it is a start. It will go some way to help reduce the number of young people having to wait an unacceptable length of time to access services.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and a number of noble Lords mentioned the prevalence study produced in 2004. We are doing a new prevalence study, as the noble Earl will know. One of the differences with the new study is that it will pick up the impact of social media on young people, which was not there in 2004—a point made by my noble friend Lord Patten. It will include 16 to 17 year-olds and older children as well.
We know that schools have a hugely important role to play in supporting and promoting good mental health. The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, raised the question of whether Ofsted in its inspections could look at the liaison with mental health services. The noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, pointed out the good work that is being done by Kingston Council. I will raise the issue of Ofsted with the Department for Education.
The noble Lord opposite raised the issue of the use of prison cells and Section 136. We covered that in a previous debate, so I will leave it today if I can.
We are working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to explore how we can better support and protect young people online to prevent damaging experiences and better support distressed users. We are also looking at how we can better use the internet and digital devices to provide clear information and advice to young people in an accessible and familiar environment.
A number of noble Lords raised the issue of vulnerable groups. We must ensure that the benefits of this transformation are felt by all children and young people. I was interested in the particular example mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, of a young man called Jay and the beneficial impact that a youth worker can have on a young person with complex and difficult issues. That gelled with a comment made by another noble Lord who said that we must not always be looking for evidence—rather, we must allow professional judgment to have full sway. Vulnerable groups include people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who, as outlined in the 2014 report of the Institute for Health and Human Development, face additional barriers to mental well-being.
Perhaps I may briefly address the other two points made by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. Of course I will be very happy to meet the noble Earl outside the Chamber to talk about looked-after children, particularly in the light of the NSPCC report to which he referred in his remarks. I have not seen it yet—I think that it comes out in a few days’ time. I will write to him about the other issue that he raised.
I turn back to prevention. The social and economic case for prevention and well-being promotion is set out clearly in Future in Mind and will form an important part of the Government’s work. There is no doubt that early intervention is crucial. I was struck by the remark made by the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, that it is five times more likely that a child will suffer from depression later on if their mother suffered from perinatal depression. That is a new statistic for me and more evidence that you cannot do enough for people when they are very young. I shall quote from Future in Mind:
“We can all look out for those children and young people who might be struggling right now. We can confront bullying and we can make it OK to admit that you are struggling with your mental health. We can end stigma. And we can support our friends in their treatment and recovery”.
My noble friend Lord Patten raised the issue of stigma. It is a lot better than it used to be, but, again, there is much more that we can do.
The Department of Health is currently working with other delivery partners to develop the collaborative partnering required to co-ordinate delivery of this important work. We will continue to drive forward transformation across children and young people’s mental health and well-being, delivering system-wide and sustainable transformation for all children and young people across England. I can assure all noble Lords that the issue of young people’s mental health is very important—it is hard to think of a more important issue facing the Department of Health, or indeed a more difficult challenge because these are not easy issues. The right offer, available in the right place and at the right time, delivered by a workforce with the right skills and knowledge, are all essential if we are to deliver this important report into reality.
Again, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for securing this important debate. If I have not done justice to all the questions that have been raised, I am happy to meet noble Lords outside this Chamber or to write to them.