ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:17 pm on 15th May 2018.

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Photo of Jo Platt Jo Platt Labour/Co-operative, Leigh 4:17 pm, 15th May 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.

It is a great honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Streeter. A few months ago the enormousness of the struggles and barriers that those with attention deficit hyperactive disorder face on a daily basis was brought to my attention by an inspirational woman who approached me in the hope that we could establish an all-party parliamentary group for ADHD. Seven months later, I proudly chair that APPG, along with Helen Whately. We have held our launch and our first meeting, which was on the economic impact of ADHD, and today we have our first parliamentary debate on the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.

That inspirational woman is Michelle Beckett, the founder and CEO of ADHD Action, an incredible charity set up to support and offer advice to people struggling with their condition. Everyone on the APPG, some of whom are here today, would agree that we would not be here today without Michelle’s work and dedication to the issue. I would therefore like to place on the record my thanks, and those of the APPG, to Michelle for the incredible work she does.

In the months since we created the APPG, I have become ever more shocked by the stories and experiences shared with us about the diagnosis and treatment process that has been letting people down. It has been doing so in three ways. The first is stigma and attitudes. That is true of mental health more generally, and I am pleased that this debate is during Mental Health Awareness Week, which is a yearly reminder of the progress yet to be made in treating mental health in parity with physical health.

Looking at societal attitudes to ADHD in particular, we see a variety of misconceptions and stigmas. ADHD is often seen as a condition that only affects boys. It is sometimes interpreted as the product of poor parenting or just excused as naughty children playing up. All those ideas are false, but the impact of those misconceptions is enormous. Children may not be offered the correct support, and adults with the condition are often undiagnosed or even unaware that they might have ADHD.

An undiagnosed child in school, without the support they need, will in all likelihood fall behind their classmates and struggle to obtain top grades. Almost half of all school exclusions involve pupils with special educational needs. That is a truly shocking statistic, and it underlines the importance of exploring further ADHD-specific policies, perhaps in the mental health Green Paper or as part of the special educational needs and disability code of practice.