Better mental health services for Mid-Cornwall

I have been campaigning for radical change to mental healthcare, both locally and nationally. Mental health is an issue which affect us all either directly or indirectly and I believe greater awareness, research and treatment is urgently needed.

50% of mental illness starts before the age of 14, and 75% before the age of 18. This underscores the importance of improving children and young people’s mental health provision. I am pleased this Government is providing unprecedented levels of funding to support real change.

I am delighted to have been able to support many of the fantastic organisations within Cornwall providing care and support to people affected by mental health conditions such as Pentreath, the Invictus Trust, the Wave Project and Natty Surf Jam. I am also proud to be supporting MQ’s national campaign for greater research to better understand and effectively treat mental health conditions.

Earlier this year, I was pleased to welcome the announcement of the long-needed mental health in-patient unit for children and young people in Cornwall due to open in April 2019. For too long we have had to see children and young people, at a time when they are most vulnerable, having to travel across the country to access badly needed support. This puts unbelievable strain both on them and their families, so a facility in Cornwall is absolutely essential.

Furthermore, Royal Cornwall Hospital is one of 74 sites from around the country that has been offered £30m as part of the ‘Core 24’ standard for mental health liaison, meaning a fully-staffed team will be operating 24/7 in the hospital, offering a one-hour response to emergency mental health referrals in A&E.

I understand there is currently no specialist service within Cornwall for adults with ADHD. The Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group (KCCG) have confirmed there is currently a gap in the provision and advised me they have commenced a process of review to consider how local services need to be enhanced to meet the needs of people with this condition. I will continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure those living within Mid-Cornwall with ADHD can access the specialist services they deserve.

I am also pleased to welcome the publication of this Government’s Green Paper in December 2017 on Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision which focuses on earlier intervention and prevention, especially in and linked to schools and colleges.

Nationally, this Government has already achieved:

  • A record £11.6 billion a year spent on mental health, with CCGs are asked to increase their spending on mental health each year up to 2020.
  • £1.4 billion of investment available to support significant transformation in children and young people’s mental health as set out in Future in Mind, which includes £150 million for eating disorders and £75 million on perinatal services.
  • Last year NHS investment in frontline mental health services rose by over £575 million, with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services CAMHS investment growing by around £100 million.
  • Four new mother and baby units have been approved, 70 community eating disorders services funded and new children and adolescent beds in place.
  • The first ever mental health waiting times targets - for early intervention for psychosis, eating disorders, and talking therapies (IAPT). Two out of three of these waiting times targets are for services used by young people.

The priority for this Government is to intervene earlier, in particular through closer working between the NHS and our schools. New funding will be made available to take forward the final plans following consultation. The proposals as set out in this Green Paper include:

  • Senior leads for mental health: Every school and college in England will also be incentivised to appoint a designated senior lead for mental health to co-ordinate existing school-based support as well as helping children to access specialist therapies and other NHS treatments if they need them. Supported by a training package of up to £95 million from 2019, the designated senior leads will also be responsible for developing a “whole school approach” to mental health and wellbeing – including making sure pastoral support is available for all pupils and that strong policies are in place to reduce bullying and other behaviours that can cause mental distress.
  • Mental Health Support Teams: Our core proposals build on the success of the “schools and children and young people’s mental health services link pilot” and provide a very significant boost to services based around schools and colleges, that importantly need to be delivered in a coordinated way. At their heart is our commitment to make available £209 million to fund new collaboratively delivered Mental Health Support Teams, made up of additional trained staff, supervised by NHS specialists, to provide support in or near schools and colleges for children and young people with emerging and more moderate needs.
  • Piloting a four-week wait standard: We also want to continue to improve access to specialist services and will pilot a four-week waiting time standard for accessing children and young people’s mental health services.

Additionally, there are a number of other proposals to improve support for young people’s mental health, including work to support the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s work on keeping young people safe online, convening a new partnership to look at support for the mental health of 16-25 year olds, and commissioning further research in a number of areas to build our understanding of the evidence.

There is always more to be done but this Government has made significant progress in improving mental health services and I will continue to push for Mid-Cornwall to get the NHS services we deserve.