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Government Response to the First Joint Report of the Education and Health and Social Care Committees of Session 2017-19 on Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: A Green Paper

The Health and Education Select Committees published a report on 9 May 2018 following their inquiry earlier in the year into ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a green paper’. This document sets out the Government’s response to the Committees’ report, from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department of Education jointly.

Alongside this document response we have published our response to the consultation on the Green Paper. This consultation response sets out what people told us in the public consultation on the Green Paper, and gives further details about how the proposals will now be implemented.

We welcome the Committees’ inquiry, which provided helpful insights during our consultation period. We acknowledge many of the concerns which the Committees heard during the course of the inquiry, including the need for the Green Paper proposals to integrate into the existing world of provision and services around children and young people; the need to join up with existing work across government; and the importance of the proposals having a positive impact on vulnerable groups.

However, we reject the Committees’ assertion that the plans lack ambition in terms of scale and pace; our proposals are genuinely transformational and will take time to roll-out in a meaningful and useful way. Our estimates suggest that at full roll-out, the brand new Mental Health Support Teams could comprise up to 8,000 new staff. This is comparable in size to the entire current children and young people’s mental health services workforce in the NHS, which is around 7,000 full time equivalent staff. It is also comparable in scale to roll-out of the adult “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” (IAPT) workforce of almost 7,000 full time equivalents, which took eight years to create. However, unlike IAPT, this new programme has additional complexities in that the Mental Health Support Teams will be jointly owned by health and education. We will therefore expect local areas to determine what their workforce needs might be, and the trailblazers will test the right number and mix of staff in the Mental Health Support Teams.

We need to recruit and train a cadre of new staff to form the teams, which will take time. With over 20,000 schools and colleges, roll-out to a fifth to a quarter of the country by 2022/23 will in itself be a significant achievement. It is essential that we test our new approach carefully, with proper monitoring and evaluation, to influence the design of the full roll-out, which is an essential prerequisite for successful programmes.

As detailed below, we believe our plans, making available £300 million to support the proposals, represent a major addition to the existing extensive programme of transformation around children and young people’s mental health. Children and young people’s mental health has been and continues to be a priority area for this Government, evidenced by existing work which includes:

  • Improving access so that 70,000 additional children and young people with a mental health need per year by 2020/21 receive evidence based treatment.
  • Work to improve data, and ensuring that reporting on children and young people’s services data is a key component of the Mental Health Services Data Set.
  • Introducing access and waiting times for children and young people on community eating disorders treatment and early intervention in psychosis treatment (both of which we are exceeding or on track to meet).
  • Improved timely access to inpatient beds, closer to home, for those children and young people who require more intensive treatment.
  • Investing £365 million in perinatal mental health services to ensure that by 2020/21 at least 30,000 additional women each year can access specialist community mental health care.
  • Legislating to make it illegal for under 18s to be taken to police stations due to mental illness, from last December.

We have also recently announced a historic funding settlement for the NHS, and have asked the NHS to produce a major new long-term plan in return. As the Prime Minister has made clear, new ten year ambitions on mental health will be at the NHS plan’s heart; the initiatives set out in our response to the Green Paper consultation are important first steps towards our longer term ambitions on mental health.