The Health and Social Care Committee launched an inquiry on January 29 to assess the government’s progress with regard to improving children and young people’s mental health provision.

The inquiry is also going to examine whether the children’s mental health sector should be moved towards a more holistic approach, which would prioritise early intervention and prevention as well as crisis care, and find ways to tackle the rising number of children who self-harm and commit suicide.

The announcement follows Children’s Mental Health Week, which began on Monday.

The inquiry is currently accepting submissions for evidence, to cover areas which include but are not limited to:

  1. The ambitions laid out in the 2017 Green Paper
  2. Provision of mental health support in schools.
  3. Provision of support for young people with eating disorders
  4. Addressing capacity and training issues in the mental health workforce
  5. Improving access to mental health services

The inquiry is also hoping to receive submissions which address the following questions:

  • How inpatient care can be improved so that it is not creating additional stress on children and young people, and how the use of physical and medical restraint can be reduced
  • The wider changes needed in the system as a whole, and to what extent it should be reformed in favour of a model that focuses on early intervention in children and young people’s mental health to prevent more severe illness developing
  • How the Government can learn from examples of best practice, including from other countries?
  • What measures are needed to tackle increasing rates of self-harming and suicide among children and young people?

The decline in children’s mental health has become a deeply troubling aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic, and aggravated by rising levels of poverty and lack of access to good support services.

A report published by NHS Digital in October, found that the number of children experiencing a probable mental disorder had increased over the past three years, from one in nine in 2017 to one in six in July of last year.

Data collected and published in the Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2020 report, found that the rate had risen in boys aged 5 to 16 from 11.4% in 2017 to 16.7% in July 2020 and in girls from 10.3% to 15.2% over the same time period.