The Youth Select Committee (YSC) has announced it will undertake an inquiry into mental health. The Committee, a British Youth Council (BYC) initiative, will explore issues around awareness, education and services for young people under 25.
As part of this, the YSC is calling for evidence from a range of witnesses including experts, parliamentarians and young campaigners.
Now in its fourth year, the YSC is supported by the House of Commons. A report with recommendations will be produced later in the year and the government will be invited to make a formal response. The 11 committee members are aged 13-18 and include members of the UK Youth Parliament, youth councillors, a young mayor, reserved seats and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Mental health was chosen as the subject for the inquiry by the BYC following the UK Youth Parliament voting the topic as a priority campaign at its annual sitting in the House of Commons in November 2014, and BYC members voting on it to be an election campaign priority for the 2015-2020 Parliament. It was also a top five topic in the Make Your Mark youth referendum of 876,000 young people balloted across the UK.
The committee will look at issues including:
• What more could be done to prevent stigma and discrimination towards young people with mental health issues, particularly when it prevents young people from seeking support?
• What is the impact of mental health issues on young people’s education? Do teachers and others working with young people receive sufficient training?
• What is the quality/impact of online information? Could it be made more accessible to young people? What is the impact of websites such as sites which promote self-harm?
• Are changes needed regarding the provision of mental health services? Are they accessible and appropriate for young people? If not, what could be done to improve them?
Rhys Hart, chair of the YSC, said: “Mental Health is a sensitive and important topic for young people, ranging from stress to suicide and school support to hospitalisation. To investigate this, the Youth Select Committee will need to demonstrate care and capability in its approach. I am absolutely positive that we will create an extensive and strong report fed by diverse pieces of evidence to be able to develop considered recommendations to the government.”
The Committee’s call for written evidence closes at 12 noon on May 22. The YSC will also hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons in June and July. Written evidence should be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via post to Youth Select Committee, Internal Audit, Care of the Office of the Chief Executive, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.