Over the last few months it has become increasingly clear that local mental health services for children and adolescents are under acute pressure.
On a national scale, deep cuts in funding in child and adolescent mental health services are having a profound impact across the UK. Children are having to wait an unacceptable amount of time for assessment and therapies and dedicated mental health workers are buckling under increased workloads, either going on long-term sick or seeking other careers.
It is deeply concerning to see the pain many of my constituents go through, watching their children endure lengthy waits to access the help they desperately need.
I have met with mental health professionals and patients here in Barnsley to hear about their experiences, and I will continue to do so.
I believe our children’s mental health and emotional well-being should be a key priority for government. We owe it to our children to give them the best possible start in life so that they can grow up to be successful, happy adults. When children and adolescents are unhappy and experiencing stress, they are far more likely to fail at school or get in trouble with the police. I see this every day in my work with victims and on youth justice.
It's time that we, as a society, got our priorities right on child and adolescent mental health. I have raised this issue in Parliament on a number of occasions and I will continue to work with people locally to look at ways we can improve these vital services.
An edited version of this letter was published in the Barnlsey Chronicle on 14 November 2014.