As mentioned under ‘Health’, emotional well-being is paramount if children are to grow into healthy, successful adults. There needs to be clear mechanisms in place to support children through the difficult process of growing up. Even with the other requirements in place, there will still be times when children need additional guidance to help with the challenges they face.
This guidance can come from both within their family and outside support. Therefore, parents need to be able to access guidance on how to parent. Crucially, we need to safeguard our children, and support BMBC, schools, professionals and all relevant agencies with their strong commitment to child protection.
Support: what can be done?
Over the last couple of years, many constituents have contacted me to raise their concerns about the waiting times for assessment and treatment with the CAMHS. I have raised these concerns directly with the South Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, who have carried out a review on this service over the last 6 months. I am currently waiting to see the outcome from this review.
In the meantime, I was pleased to learn that Therapies for Anxiety, Depression and Stress (TADS), a voluntary group, has won Big Lottery funding for a project working to support people aged 11 to 18 with their mental wellbeing. Whilst it is encouraging to see that some schools nationally have been able to provide in-house counselling services for students, not all can afford to do so. That is why I think there should be provision within the PSHE (Personal, social, health and economic) curriculum to teach these basic skills and discuss therapeutic services.
I continue to work closely with BMBC and South Yorkshire Police to tackle the issue of ‘legal highs’. Currently I am supporting the Police and Crime Commissioner with his legal highs campaign. Working with local sporting personalities, the campaign is raising awareness of the dangers of legal highs, sending out the message to young people that these substances can have a devastating impact on their lives.
On a national level, I have been pushing the government to move forward with legislation to ban ‘legal highs’, and am pleased that the Psychoactive Substances Bill has resulted in a blanket ban coming into force on 1 April 2016.
Whilst I acknowledge that use of legal highs is often a symptom of other underlying problems, I believe it is vital that we stop the sale of these substances to children – which is currently allowed under law. Local people have witnessed users fitting and vomiting after taking these unregulated substances and there are reports from across the UK, and Barnsley itself, of people dying after consuming them. They are a clear threat to our young people, who often believe they are ‘safe’ because they are ‘legal’.