The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee today (Friday 19th May 2017) announces a new inquiry into body image. The Committee is calling for evidence from a wide range of witnesses, including organisations and interested parties, as well as young people who have been affected by body image issues.
The Youth Select Committee, now in its sixth year, is a British Youth Council initiative supported by the House of Commons. The eleven committee members are aged 14-18 and include Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. Body image was one of the top ten issues voted for by almost one million young people in UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot in 2016.
The committee will look at issues including:
- Does the Government have a responsibility to discourage the use of social media, the internet and communications platforms in ways which promote poor body image? What should it be doing in this regard?
- Do internet companies, social media platforms or other platforms have a responsibility to tackle trends which entrench poor body image? What are they already doing in this area? What more should they be doing?
- Are particular groups of young people particularly prone to poor body image, or less likely to seek help? What causes these trends?
- To what extent is dissatisfaction with body image contributing to the increase in mental health problems amongst children and young people?
Thomas Copeland, 18, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “This year the Youth Select Committee will be examining Body Image. Body Image has become an issue of considerable concern for young people, so it is crucial that they are given a voice on this important subject. We are really looking forward to hearing what young people and professionals highlight as the key areas of potential policy improvement throughout the inquiry.”
The Committee’s call for evidence closes on 16th June 2017 and the Youth Select Committee will hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons on 7th and 14th July 2017.
The Government has today (Tuesday 7th February 2017) released its official response to the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee Report – ‘Young People and the Issues of Racism and Religious Discrimination’. In an unprecedented move, the joint response has been issued by three departments including the Department for Education, Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government. The response states the Government’s commitment to building ‘a country that works for everyone’.
The joint Government response, which offers an answer to each of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations, makes a commitment to support schools to produce their own codes of practice, bringing together the various statutory duties and policies, to set out the principles for a whole school approach to inclusivity and tolerance. The Government has also welcomed Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton’s proposal to the establish a national hate crime advisory group.
The response follows the Youth Select Committee’s inquiry which considered both written and oral evidence and concluded that racist taunting was being dismissed as banter in schools across the UK. In the report, published in November 2016 the Committee offered recommendations pertaining to the level and quality of awareness and education in schools, the prevalence of racism and religious discrimination and how organisations and young people are attempting to tackle it, how the issues can be tackled at a local level by communities and how tackling racism and religious discrimination should be approached at a national level by the Government.
Throughout the inquiry, evidence was gathered from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, Ministers and education professionals. The inquiry was triggered after the issue topped the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot in 2015 of 969,992 young people in the UK.
The Youth Select Committee have made it clear that in order to tackle racism and religious discrimination changes must be made to the PSHE syllabus. Despite not agreeing, the Government have stated they are ‘actively considering the case for further action on PHSE’, a message which represents a change in tone in the Government’s response on PSHE lessons.
During the inquiry, which took place in the wake of ‘post-Brexit racism’, the Government published their Hate Crime Action Plan which looks to focuses on reducing hate crime, increasing reporting, and improving support for victims. The Government have made it clear that they are invested in tackling racism and religious discrimination, and the British Youth Council will be looking to the Government’s response to the Casey Review, which is due to be released in Spring 2017, to see what steps the Government
Bronagh Hughes, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said:
“The Youth Select Committee welcomes the Government’s swift and comprehensive response to our report published late last year, ‘Young People and the Issue of Racism and Religious Discrimination’, and is particularly appreciative of the cross-departmental nature of the response we have received.
“Whilst we do wish that more of our recommendations could have been supported, we were particularly pleased to read of the Department of Education’s consideration of further action on the teaching of PSHE, and the Government’s welcome of the establishment of a national hate crime Independent Advisory Group for young people. These are issues that are very important to all members of the Youth Select Committee.”
Download the Youth Select Committee Report ‘Young People and the Issues of Racism and Religious Discrimination’
Download Government response to Youth Select Committee Report ‘Young People and the Issues of Racism and Religious Discrimination’
As Chair of the Youth Select Committee on Young People’s Mental Health, I warmly welcomed Theresa May’s pledge to overhaul mental health and to give parity of esteem for children and young people’s mental health with their physical health.
The Youth Select Committee is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons and the pledge gives priority to key recommendations in the Youth Select Committee’s 2015 report. The issue of mental health was a top issue in the Make Your Mark youth ballot of 2015; the biggest youth consultation in the country, which saw more than 108 000 young people aged 11-18 vote for it as a top issue of concern.
This issue is also one close to my heart too, I have campaigned locally and been a part of the mental health debate from the age of 14. Starting in my county of Shropshire I took part in council initiatives, NHS research and support projects; listened to young people engaged with CAMHS and school mental health services and campaigned for improvement as a Member of UK Youth Parliament. Knowing family members, friends and many in my community struggle deeply with mental health, it was this injustice which motivated me to want to be a part of the Youth Select Committee. It makes me proud that such a common injustice is now being giving the attention it is long overdue.
The Youth Select Committee found a large range of issues facing young people’s mental health. Such issues include an absence of support and signposting in schools, bullying online, stigma around the discussion of mental health and the growing pressures and decreasing funding, as causes of a youth mental health crises. In response the committee made a few but vital recommendations, based on awareness, education and services. These include but are not limited to: commissioners appointed to local areas, the design of a trusted mental health app, mental health first aid training and an extremely important proportionate increase and ring-fencing of young people’s mental health services budget. The recent response to the committee’s recommendation of the focus on teacher training and mental health first aid in schools is particularly welcome, as in our research we found it common for education to be the cause or trigger of mental health issues such as anxiety. It is an alarming fact that 340 000 5-10 year olds suffer from a mental disorder and this figure increases with teenagers – affecting both their social life and their education. The Committee recommends that teacher training be specific and mandatory and that it focuses on how to respond, how to spot problems and where to refer.
A young person with mental health issues cannot succeed to their full potential in the current learning environment and a holistic, whole school approach with training for all is a key step forward in improving students’ academic abilities and mental wellbeing.
However, there is still work do be done, I am keen to hear if the government will also accept and instil the committee’s recommendation to have a mental health nurse or councillor who is fully trained in schools. The achievement of parity of esteem between one’s physical health and ones mental health is of grave concern, and although teacher training in mental health and signposting is very important, a fully qualified mental health nurse/councillor is necessary to provide a wider service to meet the need. Though this is only a cog in the work, to truly deal with the growing mental health crises, the government must consider an increase and ring fence of key services budgets for mental health. The case for need is there. Additionally, the economic case provides only further evidence we are creating a backlog of individuals with mental health issues which will be harder and more expensive to deal in adulthood, yet the majority of mental health funding is in adult hood. Prevention is better than cure. But nevertheless, this is a great and brilliant pledge by Theresa May. The Government has taken a welcomed step forward for young people and mental heath and I hope there are many more steps to come down this long road.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will launch its report on ‘racism and religious discrimination’ on Wednesday 16th November 2016. The report, launched as part of UK Parliament Week, concludes that people’s attitudes towards racism and religious discrimination have become normalised and there is ambiguity surrounding what constitutes such behaviour. It stresses that the Government needs to do more to define racism and religious discrimination as well as to raise awareness of what these definitions actually mean in practice. The committee also recommends making PSHE a compulsory subject in schools, with teachers receiving better training on tackling racism and religious discrimination; a recommendation the Government has not ruled out.
Bronagh Hughes, 18, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “Throughout our extensive inquiry into racism and religious discrimination, it became apparent to the Committee that racism and religious discrimination remains prevalent in the lives of many young people living in the UK. The UK’s decision to leave the EU brought this issue to the forefront of political discussion following the post-Brexit surge in hate crime that surfaced. Moving forward, we must ensure that this is high on the agenda for decision makers so that we can make positive steps to combat both racism and religious discrimination. The Committee is really keen to hear the Government’s response to our recommendations.”
Now in its fifth year, the Youth Select Committee, supported by the House of Commons, takes evidence in public and has its proceedings streamed online and recorded in Hansard. The eleven committee members are aged 15-19 and include Members of UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor, reserved seats and representatives from each of the devolved nations. Previous inquiries have reported on transport, education, votes at 16, and mental health.
This year’s inquiry considered:
- the level and quality of awareness and education in schools
- the prevalence of racism and religious discrimination and how organisations and young people are attempting to tackle it
- how the issues can be tackled at a local level by communities;
- how tackling racism and religious discrimination should be approached at a national level by the Government.
Evidence was gathered from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, and professionals.
‘Tackling racism and religious discrimination’ was chosen as one of the top priorities in a ballot of 969,992 young people conducted in 2015, and subsequently became the topic of focus for this year’s Youth Select Committee. The issue was highlighted as a priority once again in a 2016 poll of 978,216 young people, making it clear that the issue is of growing importance to young people living in the UK. The committee realises that despite the UK having strong equal rights laws and a Government Equalities Office responsible for taking action to remove barriers to equality and help build a fairer society, racism and religious discrimination continue to remain prevalent in everyday life for many people living in the UK. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union, and the repercussions of that vote in subsequent weeks brought this issue to the forefront of public attention.
Following its call for written evidence in May, the Youth Select Committee is holding oral evidence sessions with a range of witnesses as part of its inquiry into racism and religious discrimination. The first oral evidence session will take place in the Grimond Room at Portcullis House on Friday 8th July 2016. The inquiry comes at a time when reports have been suggesting a sharp increase in racist incidents since the EU Referendum.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee, now in its fifth year, is exploring how to tackle racism and religious discrimination, particularly focussing on awareness and education; services; and prevention. The Committee’s particular areas of interest are available in its terms of reference, which are available online. The Committee’s eleven members are aged 13-18 and include two Members of the UK Youth Parliament (MYPs), two youth councillors, a Young Mayor, one elected representative from each of the devolved nations and three reserved seats. Previous inquiries have reported on Transport, Education, Votes at 16, and Mental Health.
Bronagh Hughes, 17, Chair of the Youth Select Committee from Northern Ireland said: “In the UK today, racism and religious discrimination are ever more prevalent and divisive issues in society that need to be addressed. The fact that this topic was chosen by the UK Youth Parliament in their debate last November, highlights that young people today feel that more must be done to tackle it. It’s important that young people engage in politics and as a Committee we looking forward to hearing from a range of individuals and organisations on the work that they do to help tackle these issues.”
Racism and religious discrimination was voted as the priority campaign of the UK Youth Parliament, following their Make Your Mark ballot and their annual House of Commons debate in November 2015.
During the Youth Select Committee’s oral evidence session they will hear from interested parties who submitted evidence including bodies like the National Black Police Associate and National Police Chiefs’ Council, charities like Kick It Out and young people from various parts of the country. The Youth Select Committee mirrors the UK Parliament Select Committee structure and gives young people the opportunity to scrutinise and hold enquiries into topics of importance to them. The Youth Select Committee has received induction training and mentoring from Parliamentary Clerks and British Youth Council staff.
Friday 8 July – Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Panel 1 – Education: organisations
- Troy Townsend, Education and Development Manager, Kick It Out
- Kim Johnson, President, National Association of Head Teachers
- Jenny Barksfield, Deputy Chief Executive,PSHE Association
Panel 2 – Young People’s Panel
- Hania Sulaiman, member of youth cabinet, Trafford Youth Cabinet, andMark Bailey, Advocacy and Engagement Manager, Children’s Rights Services,Trafford Council
- Zena Al-Sadoun, Member of Youth Parliament for Plymouth, and Jenny Way, youth worker,Plymouth City Council
- Iqra Al-Sadoun, Campaign representative for Youthforia, and Elizabeth Harding, Chief Executive, Youth Focus North West
Panel 3 – Education: projects
- Alex Raikes, Director, Stand Against Racism and Inequality
- Marvin Rees,Mayor of Bristol
- Irene Hewitt, Secretary, Derry office, Ulster Project
- Amanda Naylor, Senior Manager of the Children and Young People’s Programme,You & Co
Panel 4 – Community: projects
- Jas Hothi, Sports Development Officer, London Youth
- James Kingett, Campaign Worker, Show Racism the Red Card
- Jill Wilson, Communities Together, and Director ofThe Equality Practice Ltd
- Piotr Teodorowski, Ethnic Minorities Health Link Worker, Grampian Regional Equality Council
The sessions will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. For meetings in Portcullis House, the entrance is located on Victoria Embankment. There is no system for the prior reservation of seats in Committee Rooms. It is advisable to allow 30 minutes to pass through security checks. Committee rooms and the timing of meetings are subject to change.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee today announces a call for evidence on racism and religious discrimination. The Committee will explore issues around awareness, prevention, education and services for young people (under 25) and is calling for evidence from a wide range of witnesses including individuals and organisations, service providers, researchers and campaigners. Evidence from young people is particularly welcome.
Now in its fifth year, the Youth Select Committee is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons, which takes evidence in public and has its proceedings televised and recorded in Hansard. The eleven committee members are aged 13-18 and include Members of UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor, reserved seats and representatives from each of the devolved nations. Previous inquiries have reported on Transport, Education, Votes at 16, and Mental Health.
Bronagh Hughes, 17, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “Racism and religious discrimination is an extremely important issue. Last year’s passionate UK Youth Parliament debate highlights that young people feel more must be done to tackle it. It’s important that young people engage with politics and as a Committee we are keen to hear what people have to say about this issue”.
The Committee’s call for written evidence closes at 12 noon on 7th June 2015 and the Youth Select Committee will hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons in June and July 2015. Written evidence should be submitted via email email@example.com or via post to the Clerk of the Youth Select Committee, c/o The Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster Programme, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
Please contact the inquiry team on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Government has today (Thursday 25th February 2016) released its Official Response to the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee Report – ‘Young People’s Mental Health’. The joint response from the Department for Education and Department of Health declares mental health and well-being as a ‘top priority in both departments’. It goes on to state that mental health has been “undervalued, underfunded and under prioritised for far too long”.
The Government has taken on board a number of the committee’s recommendations and has committed to “work with young people throughout” as it implements a number of measures. The response continues to state that “It is crucial that we work with young people throughout these changes – as only young people truly understand what they need from their services.” Both departments have acknowledged in particular the role of schools and the curriculum to prepare young people by providing a mental, as well as a physical, health education.
Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Community and Social Care and Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Childcare and Education praised a “well – informed and thoughtful report” and highlighted the Youth Select Committee’s “professionalism, passion and ability to ask the right questions”.
The response follows the Youth Select Committee’s inquiry, which launched in April 2015, considered both written and oral evidence and concluded that mental health services for young people are critically underfunded, with much work required to break down the stigma associated with mental health problems. In the report, published in November 2015, the Committee offered recommendations across three key areas: funding and the state of services, a role for education and awareness, stigma and digital culture.
Throughout the inquiry evidence was gathered from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, Ministers and health and education professionals. The inquiry was triggered after the issue topped the UK Youth Parliament’s Make Your Mark ballot in 2014 of 877,488 young people in the UK. It remains a priority campaign for 2016.
Following the publication of the report, the Department of Health has commissioned a review of the “You’re Welcome” toolkit which assesses the level and quality of youth friendly services.
Rhys Hart,Chair of the Youth Select Committee said:”The Youth Select Committee’s comprehensive investigation discovered some important and serious issues around the current state of young people’s mental health services, we’re glad to see the Government accept our findings and are not only acting on some of our recommendations but have also made it clear mental health is a priority at both the Department for Education and Department of Health. Young people need to be at the forefront of the changes being made so I’m delighted to see the Government have committed to working with young people throughout.”
Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Community and Social Care, said: “When I first met with the Youth Select Committee I was struck by their passion and commitment; it gave me great hope for the young people they represent all across the country. As we start the biggest transformation of youth mental health services in the history of the NHS through our 1.4 billion investment, it is vital that we continue to involve young people every step of the way.”
Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Childcare and Education, with responsibility for young people’s mental health, said: “I have been genuinely impressed by the dedication of the Youth Select Committee to raise awareness of the challenges that young people with mental health issues face. We are at a turning point in how we tackle children’s mental wellbeing, however, it is only by working together with young people that we can make a genuine difference.
“We have already taken significant steps with more funding for charities that support young people’s mental health, advice to schools on how to improve counselling for pupils and a pilot scheme to look at better ways of linking schools and local health services. Now we are turning to young people to hear directly from them about how we can help them support their peers. We will use their feedback to inform new projects which we’re backing with £1.5million.”
Today (Tuesday 17 November), the Youth Select Committee will launch its report on ‘Young People’s Mental Health’. The report, launched as part of Parliament Week, considers both written and oral evidence and concludes that mental health services for young people are critically underfunded, with much work required to break down the stigma associated with mental health problems. The inquiry was triggered after the issue topped a British Youth Council poll of 877,488 young people in the UK.
Evidence was gathered from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, Ministers and health and education professionals. The Committee offers recommendations across three key areas: funding and the state of services, a role for education and awareness, stigma and digital culture.
The state of young people’s health services is explored in detail, with the Committee calling for increased funding, joint working and specialist training for GPs. The report also finds that young people’s mental health services are not equal to those offered to adults, and recommends that local authorities ring fence funding for young people’s mental health.
The Committee collected much evidence on education, and the role that schools and colleges can play in helping young people to learn more about mental wellbeing. The report states that attainment levels should be set in relation to mental education, much in the same way that it is for physical education. These should be followed up by Ofsted and form part of school inspection assessments.
Changes in the ways that young people communicate are also highlighted, with a focus on the issues of cyber bulling or self-harm websites and the risks posed to young people’s mental health. The Committee suggest the creation of a specialist NHS app to offer information and signposting on mental health, as well as a broader campaign to reduce the stigma attached to the idea of being mentally unwell.
The Report will be launched at an event in Portcullis House, chaired by David Natzler, Clerk of the House of Commons, and attended by Youth Select Committee members, Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for Community and Social Care, Sam Gymiah MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education, and Dr Sarah Wollaston MP (Chair of Health Select Committee) as well as witnesses. There will be an opportunity for questions.
Rhys Hart, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “Our extensive investigation into young people’s mental health has given the committee insights into areas of improvement for mental health services. From the funding void, to a lack of cultural awareness, we have discovered a variety of issues which must be acted on without delay. With the active support of Ministers Alistair Burt and Sam Gymiah, the committee believes our recommendations can make a fundamental change in the foundations of the UK’s mental health provision and go even beyond that. The committee is very keen to hear the Government’s response to our recommendations.”
The Youth Select Committee has eleven committee members aged 14-18, and includes Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs), youth councillors, a young mayor and one elected representative from each of the devolved nations. It is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons.
‘Young People’s Mental Health’ was chosen as the priority campaign of the UK Youth Parliament at its annual House of Commons debate last week Friday and in November 2014.
During their evidence on 3rd July, Ministers took the opportunity to identify where the Youth Select Committee could contribute to Government policy. In response to a question from the Chair about how its report might inform and influence Minister Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Community and Social Care, suggested “How we keep children and young people safe on the internet; ideas for future digital apps; and how we can improve children and young peoples participation in policy making and planning for implementation”. Sam Gymiah MP, Minister for Childcare and Education, said “What can we do on a big scale to get peer-to-peer support working as part of our response in dealing with young people’s mental health issues?”. Both Minsters were interested in what ‘good’ mental health services would look like from the perspective of young people and their parents.
Professor Peter Fonagy, Clinical Director for Mental Health at NHS England who gave evidence earlier in the day underlined the importance of improving this area of services. “Do not lose sight of the tremendous opportunity that improving the mental health of children and young people represents for all of us-not just those of us working in this field, but everyone around us, and not just now, but in the future. We have a lever to improve everyone’s wellbeing through improving young people’s wellbeing.”
Mental health was voted as the priority campaign of the UK Youth Parliament, following their Make Your Mark ballot (90,549 young people voted for it) and their annual House of Commons debate in November 2014. Shortly after the committee called on the public to submit evidence and received over a hundred responses.
The committee will now go on to write their report on mental health awareness, education and services which will be published later this year.
Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Community and Social Care, said: “Children and young people’s mental health is my personal priority. It was both an honour and pleasure to provide evidence at the Youth Select Committee earlier this month. I am looking forward to the forthcoming report and would like to continue to work with the members so we can ensure that their views are incorporated into our work.”
Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Childcare and Education, with responsibility for young people’s mental health, said: “One of this Department’s priorities is to support schools and colleges in helping young people succeed through developing good character, resilience and mental health. It was both a challenge and a pleasure to give evidence to such a knowledgeable and engaged committee on this vital issue. As I said at the committee, it’s really important that we listen to young people at all stages when we develop policy as well as designing and delivering services. I look forward to their report, which I’m sure will provide a valuable perspective on how to meet the challenges we face.”
Rhys Hart, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “It was fantastic to hear the testimony of so many people stepping forward to talk about such an important issue for young people in the UK. I’d like to thank the schools, young people, healthcare professionals, politicians and more – who from every corner of the country – and gave us such valuable evidence for our inquiry.”