Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the report of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee on children and young people’s mental health.
Commenting on the report of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee on children and young people’s mental health, Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“It is very worrying to see the committee’s conclusion that there is a risk of mental health provision for children and young people slipping backwards as a result of the extra demand created by the coronavirus pandemic and the scale of unmet need which already existed.
“Mental health services for young people have been under severe pressure for many years. The government’s underfunding of the education sector has reduced the capacity of schools and colleges to provide this form of support, and NHS services for young people who require specialist help are critically under-resourced leading to very long waiting times.
“The government’s green paper in 2017 was a step in the right direction and we welcome the progress made in creating mental health support teams in a proportion of schools to provide early intervention to support children and young people.
“However, we share the select committee’s evident disappointment that no funding to roll them out nationally was identified in the recent government spending review settlement and we agree that currently planned timescales lack sufficient ambition.
“We remain gravely concerned about waiting times for children and young people’s mental health services. The green paper in 2017 set out plans for the NHS to pilot reduced waiting times of access within four weeks. We fear that many areas far exceed this target, and only recently we heard from a school leader who reported a waiting list of 18 months.
“The select committee concludes that significantly more ambition is needed over the provision of mental health services for children and young people. We agree.”