On 27 November 2023, Baroness Tyler of Enfield (Liberal Democrat) introduced her private member’s bill, the Schools (Mental Health Professionals) Bill [HL], in the House of Lords. The bill would require every school in England to have access to a mental health professional. Second reading in the House of Lords is scheduled to take place on 1 March 2024. 

The latest data on the mental health of children and young people in England, published by NHS Digital in November 2023, found that the prevalence of probable mental disorders among children and young people in England had increased since 2017. The proportion of children aged between eight and 16 years with a probable mental disorder rose from 12.5% in 2017 to 20.3% in 2023. Similarly, the prevalence among those aged between 17 and 19 years increased from 10.1% in 2017 to 23.3% in 2023. Additionally, data from NHS England in December 2023 revealed an increase in the number of children and young people accessing NHS-funded mental health services in England. 

Successive governments have introduced measures aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in schools. These include introducing compulsory health education in schools and colleges, providing grants to train senior mental health leads in schools and the creation of a mental health support teams service for children and young people. 

The provisions in the bill extend to England and Wales but as health is a devolved matter, this briefing will provide information on England only.

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