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.