Children’s mental health: Banbury MP says early intervention is vital

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis
North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis has outlined her commitment to early intervention in the final part of this paper’s investigation into young people and mental health.

She described waits for appropriate, necessary treatment as a ‘tragedy’ for families.

Mrs Prentis was responding to the BG’s spotlight on the alarming rise in referrals of primary and secondary school children to the Oxfordshire mental health services.

She said: “As the mother of two teenagers, I am very familiar with the pressures young people face. The internet, social media and smart phones may have expanded horizons but it has come at a price.

“One in ten young people has some form of diagnosable mental health condition today, and half of all conditions become established before the age of fourteen,” she said.

“During my time setting up the Northamptonshire Parent Infant Partnership back in 2011 I learned very quickly that early intervention matters.

“We only have a small window of opportunity to help, so ensuring children are able to access the right support at the right time is critical. It is a tragedy for every family when a child has to wait too long to access the care they need.”

She said good progress had been made in identifying and understanding children’s mental health issues as they have evolved over recent years.

“Last December, the government published its Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper.

“It sets out an ambitious vision to help children showing early signs of distress so that they can access the right help, in the right setting, when they need it and before it is too late.

“Next steps will be announced when responses to the public consultation have been analysed. In the meantime, an additional £1.4 billion is being invested to support clinical commissioning groups and various national programmes, including crisis support and expanding the workforce,” said Mrs Prentis.

“It is critical that the vision becomes a reality and we see genuine improvements on the ground in north Oxfordshire.

“When I was at the recent Community Partnership Network meeting we heard from a local headteacher about her school nurse who is doing some transformative work supporting students in the school.

“Like all health professionals, her commitment to giving children the best start in life was striking.

“Evidence tells us schools and colleges can, and do, play a vital role in identifying mental health needs at an early stage, referring young people to specialist services and working with others to support young people experiencing problems.

“They must be at the heart of our efforts to intervene early and prevent problems. It is really important they are given the resources to make that happen.

“From my own constituency work, I know the system doesn’t work for everyone. Problems can escalate quickly. I speak to the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust regularly, who always do their best to move issues along. Please do contact me with specific concerns.”