The new Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson, will see his first responsibility to improve children’s mental health.
Previously the Minister of State for Children and Families, his new role will take charge of the National Citizen Service (NCS), which is a government social action programme available to those aged 16 and 17 in England.
The NCS has recently been allocated £1.2bn in an attempt to engage with approximately 300,000 young people by 2020, which is when the initiative ends.
Charities and community groups have welcomed the news, saying with the focus now firmly on helping vulnerable children, which includes early intervention in young people’s mental health, childrens’ resilience and confidence will improve and so will the process to correctly education and implement best practice by those in social care and those whose remit is Special Educational Needs.
Sarah Carlick, director and founder, of The Athena Programme hopes that this new appointment will reflect those who strive to develop mental health support.
“This appointment, and its new responsibility, could really see the face of SEN and child mental health support change for the better.
“With a renewed focus on vulnerable children and families we are really starting to look at where the real problems lie and look to address them head on. Never underestimate the power of education.”
Around 1 in 3 adult mental health conditions directly relate to adverse childhood experiences. The Government’s Future in Mind and the NHS’ Five Year Forward View on Mental Health place an emphasis on meeting the mental health needs of these children, however progress on the ground has been slow – especially from education and children’s social care.
Every local area in England is trying to transform children’s mental health services and it’s this blanket approach that could, some day, see a universal change. Schools, children’s services and families must be equal partners in these new models of support. The Minister, along with his officials at the Department for Education, must meet existing commitments to promote greater emotional wellbeing, and the building of resilience, in schools. His new responsibility is certainly a good start.