Self-harm: Children and Young People

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 26th February 2018.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to increase support services for children and young people who self-harm.

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

We updated the Cross-Government National Suicide Prevention Strategy in 2017 and expanded its scope to include addressing self-harm as an issue in its own right as one the strategy’s key areas for action. The National Strategy promotes the implementation of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines on the management and treatment of self-harm.

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (2016) required all local areas to have in place multi-agency suicide prevention plans to ensure local services, who may come into contact with people at risk of suicide, work together to implement tailored actions to reduce suicide in their communities. Guidance issued to local authorities by Public Health England in October 2017 on how to develop multi-agency suicide prevention plans makes a clear expectation that local plans should seek to deliver the key areas for action of the national strategy at local level. This would include addressing self-harm within local communities. Almost every local area has a plan in place and we will be working with local areas to quality assure their plans. We are investing £25 million between 2018-20 to support suicide prevention within National Health Service Sustainability and Transformation Plan areas.

NHS England is committed through the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health to implement a comprehensive set of mental health care pathways by 2020/21, which includes a care pathway for self-harm by 2019. We are also investing £247 million to roll-out liaison mental health teams to every acute hospital by 2020. Evidence shows that liaison mental health teams are well placed to deal with people who present at hospital for self-harm.

The Department also works with a wide range of stakeholders through the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group and the National Suicide Prevention Alliance to engage experts and voluntary and charitable sector organisations to explore issues around self-harm to inform policy development. In addition, the Department funds the Multi-Centre Study of Self-Harm in England which is the only data collection, analysis and research programme of its type in England which monitors self-harm data and trends to provide research outputs and trend analysis to inform national policy development.

The Government is implementing a wide range of national policy initiatives and backed by record investment to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, which provide national preventative interventions to reduce the risk of self-harm in children and young people. The Government are making available £1.4 billion up to 2020 to transform children and young people’s mental health and we are investing £400 million to improve mental health crisis care in the community.

We published a joint health and education Green Paper on Children and Young People’s Mental Health in December 2017:

This is supported by over £300 million of additional funding and sets out ambitious proposals to improve mental health services for all children and young people. This includes:

- incentivising every school and college to appoint a Senior Designated Lead for mental health;

- creating new Mental Health Support Teams to improve support in and close to schools and colleges; and

- piloting a four-week waiting time standard for NHS children and young people’s mental health services as we roll out the Support Teams.

We are also rolling out Mental Health First Aid training to every secondary school and will begin rolling training out to all primary schools from this year to equip teachers with the skills and confidence to provide support to children and young people who may be experiencing mental health problems.

The Department of Health and Social Care is working closely with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to address issues around the impact of the internet and social media on mental health and wellbeing. The Government published a Green Paper last year setting out a National Internet Safety Strategy which seeks to address potential online harms and the Government has held roundtable discussions with internet and social media companies to encourage them to step up to do more to safeguard their users. Online safety is supported by the work of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. We also work with voluntary and charitable sector organisations to support programmes to address potentially harmful content, including websites which may encourage self-harming.

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