Beat's view on the government’s green paper
In December, the UK Government published a green paper containing a series of proposals aimed at improving the support available to children and young people in schools, colleges and mental health services in England.
The Government carried out a consultation on these proposals during the winter and early spring and we encouraged our supporters to have their say by completing the Government’s online survey. We completed that survey too, and also sent them a document containing our full response to the proposals.
To help us write our response, we sought and received feedback on the green paper’s proposals from seven Beat volunteers who each have had personal experience of an eating disorder.
We were pleased by the green paper’s focus on early intervention and its recognition of the important role that schools and colleges can play in early identification, support and referral to specialist treatment. Its main proposals have the potential, if fully funded and carefully implemented, to significantly improve the support available to children and young people with an eating disorder.
The main points we raised in our response were:
- Designated Senior Leads for Mental Health, which the green paper proposes should be present in every school and college, should be senior members of staff, with sufficient capacity, support and supervision to develop and oversee whole-school/college approaches to mental health and wellbeing.
- The initial training and Continuing Professional Development opportunities provided for both the Designated Senior Leads for Mental Health and the Mental Health Support Teams working with clusters of schools and colleges must cover eating disorders, including spotting early signs/symptoms, how best to speak to and support a young person with an eating disorder and referral to specialist treatment.
- All teachers should receive training about mental health including eating disorders.
- The Government should clarify how Mental Health Support Teams will fit within the care pathway for children and young people with an eating disorder, which was published by NHS England in 2015. The introduction of Mental Health Support Teams must not divert or delay children and young people with eating disorders from being able to access the specialist treatment provided by community eating disorders services.
- The Government must ensure that all funding pledged for children and young people’s mental health services, including community eating disorders services for children and young people, is spent as intended and is treated as additional to pre-existing spend.
- Children, young people, families and professionals must be meaningfully consulted and engaged in the monitoring and evaluation of the new proposals in the ‘trailblazer areas’ if they are to be successful.
- The proposed national strategic partnership on the mental health of 16- to 25-year-olds should be tasked with creating an urgent plan for action, with clear objectives and timescales. Beat would be keen to participate in this partnership.
The Government will publish the outcome of the consultation soon and we will let you know when they do so. This will include more detail on the plans it set out in the green paper and how they will be implemented.
As the Government puts these new initiatives in place, we at Beat will do all we can to ensure that the needs of people affected by eating disorders are fully accounted for.