Theresa May has ordered a review of children’s mental health services as part of a package of measures designed to improve care.
In a speech to the Charity Commission, the prime minister said the review, which will be led by social care regulator the Care Quality Commission and assisted by Ofsted, will make sure services are “properly held to account” in future inspections.
May promised a green paper on children and young people’s mental health later this year, extra mental health training for school staff, and, by 2021, an end to the practice of children being sent away from their local areas for mental health care.
She also reiterated the government’s commitment to investing £10m in Think Ahead, the mental health social work fast-track training scheme.
The prime minister’s speech comes almost exactly a year after her predecessor, David Cameron, pledged to deliver a “revolution in mental health treatment”. In 2015, Cameron also promised an extra £250m a year in funding for children’s mental health services until 2020. But a report published in December by charity Young Minds found much of the funding hadn’t reached frontline services.
Dave Hill, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said the government’s rhetoric on mental health had to be backed up with action.
He said: “Much focus has been placed on improving child and adolescent mental health services over the years with the creation of the independent mental health taskforce and campaigns aimed at reducing the stigma around mental health, but the quality of services across the country remains inconsistent.
“Going forward, we are committed to working alongside government and partners in the NHS, schools, colleges and the voluntary sector to promote the emotional, mental and social wellbeing of all children and young people. We now need to see government rhetoric result in transformative action on the ground.”
Sean Duggan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, said: “Mental health is worsening among children and there is too much variation in the care available to people of all ages. Increasing the public’s own awareness and acceptance of mental health is also an important step in helping people to seek help at the earliest time.
“Mental health services still need the government’s support to speed-up promised funding, much of which is delayed, but we are very pleased that mental health is being accepted as a major priority going forward.”
Among other measures targeting mental health and wellbeing, the prime minister also announced a review on improving mental health support in the workplace and extra investment in online therapies.