My hon. Friend is absolutely right, not only about the impact on schools—I will say more later about what we can do in schools—but about the pressure on CAMHS and the massive importance of getting children seen as soon as possible. Just imagine if one of us were having a mental health episode and were told that we could see someone in 12 months who would then refer us for treatment. CAMHS are not the doctors or the psychiatrists who see the patient. They are not the help; they are the doorkeepers to getting help—the triage, as it were. Even when someone gets through the CAMHS door and jumps over the very high bar for getting treatment, it could be many months before they receive it.
It is a great challenge. I know that the Government take it seriously; their 2017 Green Paper “Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision” outlined their ambitious new plans for delivering mental health support in schools, and the announcement this week of the mental health services trailblazers is a welcome part of that strategy. I am delighted that my area, Burton, is to be in the second phase of those trailblazers, which I genuinely believe will make a difference. However, figures from the Children’s Society suggest there has been little expansion in the provision available in schools since 2015, so we are starting from a low base. In particular, the figures point to a worrying lack of awareness among parents about the counselling offered in their children’s schools: just under a third are not aware of what is available at all.
I am pleased that the Government have announced that every school, college and alternative provision across England will be offered training as part of the £9.3 million mental health services and schools and colleges link. However, even though my area is one of the trailblazers, priority access to mental health training for schools and colleges will not be available in my constituency until next year. It is clearly needed now. There are so many MPs, constituencies and constituents who want access, so how can we roll it on quicker? To use my “Oliver!” analogy again—