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Government plans to transform children and young people’s mental health provision lack boldness

JANUARY 13, 2020

The government’s green paper on transforming children and young people’s mental health provision in England lacks the boldness and scope needed to address the ‘burning injustice’ of young people’s mental ill health says Britain’s largest union Unite.

In its response to the government’s green paper, Unite which represents over 100,000 health workers, warned that cuts and an absence of adequate funding would undermine the aim of every school in England having a designated senior lead for mental health.

Since 2010, school nurses employed by the NHS have been cut by 20 per cent, leading to calls by Unite, in its response, for the government to introduce a school nurse implementation plan and reintroduce the health visitor implementation plan. Unite believes such a move would deliver the much needed transformative boost to school nurse and health visitor numbers which is needed to improve mental health outcomes for infants and school age children.

Elsewhere in its response, Unite criticised an absence of focus on early years intervention, warning that the ability to prevent mental ill health would be squandered, if a revised paper did not reverse the invisibility of a child’s ‘first 1,001 critical days’.

Unite’s submission in full can be viewed here.

Commenting Unite lead professional officer for mental health Dave Munday said:

“This green paper lacks the scope and the boldness needed to properly address the burning injustice of young people’s mental ill health.

“The government needs to broaden the scope of its ambition with an increased focus on early years support. Ministers also need to boost school nurses and health visitor numbers to improve mental health and well-being outcomes.

“Ultimately, government ministers need to wake up to the damage and distress that its austerity agenda is having on people’s health and well-being. The green paper ignores this reality, and therefore, improvements to children and young people’s mental health will be significantly impeded.”


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