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5th December 2014
Dear Ms Bridget,
Thank you for your correspondence of 5 November to Norman Lamb about the Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce. I have been asked to reply.
As you will know, the Taskforce was launched in August to find ways to improve the way children and young people's mental health services are organised, commissioned and provided, and how to make it easier for all young people to access help and support. The Taskforce will consider how to reduce health inequalities and promote equality for all children and young people with mental health needs.
The Taskforce shares your concern for the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBT community, as it knows that young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are at a significantly higher than average risk of having mental health problems, and are more likely to have difficulty in accessing services.
To ensure that mental health services reflect the needs of the LGBT community, the Taskforce has set up a 'Task and Finish' group that looks specifically at vulnerable groups, including the LGBT community, and inequalities.
The Vulnerable Groups and Inequalities Task and Finish Group is considering how to ensure there is system that works for the most vulnerable children and young people. The group will work with other Task and Finish groups in the Taskforce to ensure that the needs of all children and young people are considered and addressed, including those from the LGBT community.
I hope this reply is helpful.
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health
In response to this I sent an email to the chairs of the 'Task and Finish' group to find out ways the Vulnerable Children's Group will be taking on board the needs of LGBT young people? This is the response I got:
There has been a lot of commentary saying they don't think we should identify individual groups of children and young people but should concentrate more on the needs of vulnerable groups generally which is what we are trying to do. We hope that the general proposals that will be made by the taskforce will address the needs of all children and young people. However, the overarching report is intended to be short - 30 pages or so - so will not go into much detail about specific groups, obviously a great deal of the work will come at a later stage (ie post-election depending on what incoming Ministers wish to do) and at local level.
I am curious to know who is making the 'commentary' given that none of the oral submissions to the House of Commons Inquiry mentioned LGBT young people and only five of the 163 written submissions included them (three of these were references to the vulnerability of LGBT young people, two, my own and one from the Metro Centre, looked at LGBT young people specifically); and given that the Taskforce does not appear to have any input from an expert on LGBT young people?
The Children and young people's mental health and well-being taskforce are now consulting professionals who work with children and young people: Professionals' Survey for Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce. I only heard about this yesterday and have completed the survey. The deadline was today but it has been extended to 12th December. It is not known whether any other professionals who work with (or have worked with like me) young LGBT people have completed the survey but I suspect not.
It is worth noting that although the above response says individual groups of children and young people should not be identified, there is a section of the survey which states:
We know that there are some groups of children and young people who are particularly vulnerable and find it harder to access mental health services (e.g. victims of sexual exploitation, learning disabled children, looked after/adopted children, young offenders).
Pardon me for being confused! And pardon me if I don't believe that the needs of LGBT young people will be addressed or included in the needs of vulnerable groups generally.
20th November 2014
12th November 2014
6th November 2014
6th November 2014
5th November 2014
The recommendations are that the new Department of Health/NHS England taskforce, whose task is to overhaul the way CAMHS is commissioned and to ensure young people are offered the most appropriate care both in the community and hospital, "takes full account of the submissions we have received, and the wealth of information they contain." This is specifically mentioned with regard to vulnerable groups.
It remains to be seen whether this taskforce, which does not appear to have representation from a specialist LGBT expert, will take on board the issues raised in the two submissions.
5th June 2014
We know that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people are highly vulnerable to a range of issues including mental health (self-harm and suicide), substance misuse, sexual health issues, homelessness, and this is usually the result of bullying, abuse, isolation, parental rejection.I believe that, in order to reduce this vulnerability, when a young LGBTQ person accesses a service, the providers have a duty to comprehensively assess their needs in a holistic and empowering way. I realised how important it was to develop a screening tool back in 2000 when one of the first members of my youth group died from a heroin overdose. As result I developed the Needs Assessment Tool (or NAT), which I used, developed and improved, over the 13 years I ran Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale (1999-2012). The NAT is wide-ranging and covers everything from coming out, bullying, substance misuse, sexual health, mental health, homelessness, to emotional abuse, etc. Working with the young person, using the results of the NAT, together we would develop an action plan. This could include, for example, referral for counselling, a sexual health check-up, access to housing, and so on. This method enabled young people to understand whether and how they were vulnerable, why they were vulnerable and have control over what to do about it. After six months an Impact Assessment (IMP) would take place to review progress. The report would enable me, and the young person, to see the journey the young person had taken and identify improvements made and any further action needed. This method of comprehensively assessing the needs of LGBTQ young people was identified as an example of good practice in research by the London-based, LGBT mental health organisation, PACE (Where to Turn, 2010). Just in itself, the NATnIMP can be a life saver. But there are significant added benefits, not least that after, say, 20 NATs, a consolidated report can be requested to show what percentage of young people have, for example, attempted suicide, smoke, misuse alcohol, etc. This data can then be used to access funding (we were successful in a BBC Children in Need funding bid using this method). The combined NATnIMP also provide hard evidence of the success of interventions, again extremely useful when reporting back to funders. I will be discussing the NATnIMP at the WorldPride Human Rights Conference in Toronto on 27th June 2014 and encouraging other agencies world-wide to utilise this, or other similar screening methods, when working with LGBTQ young people. I am delighted to have been chosen to make a presentation as nearly 400 applicants from almost 60 countries applied for such a privilege. Here is a link to my presentation: "Assessing the Needs of LGBTQ Youth" Jan Bridget