Future in Mind: Children and Young People’s Mental Wellbeing

Since the publication of this blog Dr Martin McShane has left NHS England.

Today we launch Future In Mind, a report with recommendations from a taskforce co-chaired by NHS England and the Department of Health. Martin McShane, NHS England’s National Director for Patients with Long Term Conditions, and co-chair of the taskforce, explains the importance of the report:

As a parent I was once told: “You are only as happy as your least happy child”.

This simple truth illustrates the wide reaching importance of supporting mental wellbeing in children and young people. Not only is it important for each and every child, it is also important for those who love and care for them.

Lastly, but of huge significance, it is important for society as a whole.

With Jon Rouse as co-chair, we were asked to set up a taskforce and prepare a report that would set out what needs to be done to improve how children’s mental wellbeing can be supported and, when in distress and ill, receive good, timely care.

We have worked with an array of passionate, informed and experienced people: professionals from clinical services, education, social care, justice services, local government and, most importantly, children, young people and parents.

The taskforce report details the impact of problems with mental wellbeing in early years and highlights that for 75 per cent of adults with mental health problems these start before the age of 18. Yet we may be reaching as few as one-in-four children and young people with problems that could be helped.

Beyond the ethical and moral argument there is a powerful economic argument given the billions of pounds in costs of treatment, benefits and to the justice system of failing to address problems early and with evidenced based interventions.

The report articulates how we need to set about tackling the problems to create a system that brings together the potential of the web, schools, social care, the NHS, the voluntary sector, parents and children and young people themselves.

There are five big themes:

  • Promoting resilience, prevention and early intervention
  • Improving access to effective support – a system without tiers
  • Care for the most vulnerable
  • Accountability and transparency
  • Developing the workforce

We have set out the challenges – one of which is that a lot can be done with what we have already if, locally, people are willing to step up and work together with common purpose and principles. Even more can be done, going forward, with additional funding. The time is right for change.

Our children and young people are our future. I would ask that everyone who is interested and involved with the wellbeing of children and young people reads this report and help put it into action.

Dr Martin McShane was previously National Clinical Director for Long Term Conditions, since the publication of these blogs he has left NHS England.


  1. Corrina says:

    Such an important issue and I see it so much seep through in the arts and culture sector, the youth reflecting their anxieties and dark depression within their work and statements. Eating,sleeping and preoccupation with image usual teenage traits but why is it getting worse? What can I do Martin to help within the arts?

  2. Jane says:

    Can you update us about the proposed counselling strategy for schools?

  3. Matt says:

    Looking forward to seeing how this develops. For me bringing together the systemic ‘web’ is critical. Mental health determinants is interwoven throughout society, and we cant approach the person in isolation.

  4. vivienne moyer says:

    Mental health care for 16 to 18 yr old is sadly lacking. Do you think it’s fair for children to have to struggle with mental health because of lack of funding. And do you have any idea what impact it can gave on the rest of the family.