Call for charter on children's mental health

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A charter on children’s mental health has been launched, calling for new legislation to support young people with mental health problems.

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Play Therapy UK, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, has published its Child Mental Health Charter with the aim of convincing the Government to introduce a Mental Health Bill in 2019 to support the one in ten children and young people thought to be affected by mental health problems.

The charter builds on the APPG’s 12th report, ‘Children’s Mental Health Beyond the Green Paper: The Role of Practice-Based Evidence,’ and calls for any new legislation to be based on six key principles:

  •  Focus on the needs of children
  • Protect children by registering all individuals who work therapeutically with them through an independent government-approved agency such as the Professional Authority’s Accredited Register programme or the Health and Care Professions Council
  • Invest in a properly qualified workforce, with Level 7 postgraduate training essential and all professionals who work with children, including teachers, to be trained in mental health awareness, regardless of their own financial resources
  • Ensure that policy is informed by the best available and appropriate evidence and is properly funded
  • Focus on the needs of parents and carers
  • Make policies succeed via ‘joined up working’ between all agencies concerned with child welfare

Chief executive of Play Therapy UK Monika Jephcott said, ‘Children are used to being last in line but the Child Mental Health Charter puts them first. Its principles will make new legislation the best it can be for every young person and we want all our professional colleagues to make it the bedrock of their current and future practice.’

Helen Clark, lead author of the 13 reports on child health and well-being published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, said the initiative would have the full support of the APPG, and called on voters to lobby their MPs to support the charter.

‘We’re absolutely delighted that Play Therapy UK has built upon our Beyond the Green Paper report in this fantastic way,’ she said.

‘The UK Government must deliver on its commitment to ensure that new mental health legislation protects all children who live with mental illness. The effects of our childhoods may indeed "last a lifetime" but time is precious for children in the here and now.

‘The Child Mental Health Charter can make enlightened mental health legislation a reality for children in 2019 and I am taking this opportunity to ask politicians of all parties, all media outlets, and everyone who lives and works with children in the UK to join PTUK and the APPG and back it today.’

  • The charter can be read and signed here
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