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.”