On 9th February 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Massey of Darwen “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they plan to take in the light of the Association for Young People’s Health briefing There for you which discusses the role of parents in supporting young people with mental health problems.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there are few more urgent issues in modern Britain than the state of mental health among our young people, and I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, for tabling this important debate. Referrals to specialist mental health services have risen dramatically in recent years as increasing social pressures on our young people threaten the mental health of a generation. Issues around body image are one area of particular concern, fuelled in part by the rise of social media. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester for her important work around body image and self-worth. Continue reading
On 6th December 2016, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke to a question he had tabled to ask the Government “what assessment they have made of the rise in the number of children and young people being treated for self-harm.” Lord Prior of Brampton responded for the Government. The Bishops’ follow-up question and those of Peers are reproduced below.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the rise in the number of children and young people being treated for self-harm.
Lord Prior of Brampton My Lords, the Government are aware of the appalling rise in self-harm in children and young people and the misery this reflects. The Government are also acutely aware that self-harm is a leading indicator of risk of suicide and recognise that much more needs to be done to address this issue.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans
I thank the Minister for his reply. The research from the World Health Organization shows that around 20% of British 15 year-olds report some sort of self-harm. In the past five years, research shows that hospital admissions associated with self-harm have gone up by nearly 93% among girls and 45% among boys. Having recently visited the outstanding charity selfharmUK
, in Luton in my diocese, I have seen what a concerted and systematic approach to this problem can have on a very difficult issue, and we need something similar at a national level. Will Her Majesty’s Government commit to publishing guidelines for schools and colleges about preventing and responding to self-harm?
On 11th July 2016, Lord O’Shaughnessy asked the Government “what steps they are taking to promote long-term, full-time volunteering among young people.” The Bishop of London, the Rt Hon and Rt Revd Richard Chartres, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, bearing in mind the more than 1 million young people—ethnically very diverse and from every part of the country—in Church of England schools, will the Minister authorise a direct conversation with the national society about the virtues of volunteering, with a view to joint action, a joint strategy and disseminating good practice? Continue reading
On the 13th April 2016 Lord Harris of Haringey asked a question of the Government about the assessment they have made of the number of deaths amongst child and adolescent patients in psychiatric units, in the light of the investigation conducted by the charity Inquest. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith asked a supplementary question about mental health care available to young people.
On 29th January 2016 the House of Lords debated at Second Reading the Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill – a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Dholakia. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate, supporting the objective of the Bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years. The Bill was given a Second Reading and proceeded to its next parliamentary stage.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, in rising to support the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia—and, indeed, pledging the support of the church to this campaign—I need to declare an interest: I was a child once and got into some scrapes. Now I am a parent and in the work I do hardly a week goes by when I am not in schools. Indeed, last year I had the sad but very moving honour of opening a garden of remembrance in the diocese where I serve in east London for young people who were the victims of, indeed had been killed by, knife crime. So I do not underestimate the seriousness of the crimes that we are talking about, nor the fact that children and young people do commit them. Continue reading
On 20th October 2015 Lord Stone of Blackheath asked Her Majesty’s Government “what progress has been made in establishing parity of esteem between mental and physical well-being.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the NSPCC report on achieving emotional well-being among young people in care found that 45% of them experience mental health problems, many of which continue to remain undiagnosed. It recommends that those young people should have not only an automatic physical health assessment but an automatic mental health assessment. Will Her Majesty’s Government consider introducing legislation to give that right to all young people as they enter care?