JAMES Sunderland challenged the secretary of state for education to support young people with appropriate mental health services.
On Monday, June 22, the Bracknell MP — whose constituency also includes parts of Crowthorne, Finchampstead and Wokingham Without — asked Gavin Williamson what was being done to tackle the backlog in child and adolescent mental health services caused as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Williamson addressed the House of Commons, and said he believed returning to school is the most important factor for pupils’ wellbeing.
He said: “We have published guidance and resources for parents and schools on how to support children’s mental wellbeing while they are not at school.
“We have given schools the flexibility to have a face-to-face check-up with all pupils during the summer term.
“Returning to school is the most vital factor in the wellbeing of pupils and educational progress.
“We have recently produced new training for teachers on how to teach about mental health issues as pupils go back to school.”
Mr Sunderland then pushed the secretary of state to clarify what is being done to reduce the “backlog” in services.
This — he told Wokingham.Today — is something he has seen documented across his constituents.
Mr Williamson then praised Mr Sunderland for “champion[ing] the mental wellbeing of young people and all his constituents often and regularly”.
He added: “I would be happy to meet him to discuss how we can do more to help. We are working closely with both Public Health England and NHS England on how we can help and support them to reduce Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) waiting times. In addition, I will raise the issue with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.”
Speaking to Wokingham.Today, Mr Sunderland said: “I’m aware that CAMHS already has a long wait list, and this has been made worse under Covid-19. I have a professional interest in CAMHS and know that the area needs extra work. I will be taking up the offer of the secretary of state, and am very pleased to be working with the minster on this.”
Responding to the idea of a meeting, Mr Sunderland added: “I’m very much a believer in soft politics.
“It can be much more influential meeting people privately and quietly, rather than gobbing off in the house.”