Nick helps to give a voice to young people in his constituency and has helped on many issues which concern or affect them, from bullying to mental health.
TEENAGE MENTAL HEALTH
“I believe there is growing political attention to mental health, and the Government’s new plan reflects this. I want to see much more being done to help young people, with the right support being made available at the earliest opportunity.” Nick Herbert - November 2017
Nick often meets teenagers in his advice surgeries, and through those meetings a number of important issues have been raised to him. Concerns about teenage mental health – from diagnosis to managing it in school – has been an issue raised several times in these meetings. They have raised concerns about the support received, lack of signposting and a view that things have needed to be improved.
In November 2017 Nick convened a teenage mental health summit to review the issue at a local level.
The summit brought together professionals from the local health services, education and support groups. They all acknowledged that early intervention and giving young people the confidence to access support is key to managing their health and preventing problems in adulthood.
They also looked at the reasons for this rising demand in services, and the need for prevention through education about emotional wellbeing and resilience.
A report by the Children’s Society estimated that 1 in 10 young people aged between 5 and 16 have a clinically diagnosed mental health problem. This is around 1,300 children in need of support in the Arundel & South Downs constituency alone.
In December last year Nick welcomed the Government’s new measures and funding to improve mental health support in children and young people.
Nick has backed an anti-bullying campaign started by his constituent, TV personality Katie Price.
Online bullying has been one of the downsides of the rise of social media use. ‘Trolling’ is a form of bullying with the perpetrator posting vile and abusive messages online, often anonymously or under a pseudonym. Katie Price’s disabled son Harvey has been the target of much online abuse which led her to start a petition to make it a specific criminal offence.
The petition rapidly gained over 200,000 signatures and Nick met Katie last May to discuss the issue in more detail. In February, Nick met Katie and her mother Amy in Parliament when they attended a Petitions Committee hearing examining the experiences of disabled people and online abuse. Nick visited Katie in July to provide her with an update which was filmed for Katie's TV series. A report on the findings from the hearing is due shortly and a Westminster debate is expected to follow. MPs will look at what changes in the law are needed to discourage unacceptable online behaviour, and define what could be criminal activity.
Nick visits many schools and colleges throughout the constituency each year. Sometimes he is invited to join a school assembly, and quite often he is invited to take part in a questions and answers session with pupils. Nick also enjoys attending seasonal and fundraising events at the schools. Each visit is an opportunity to engage with the headteachers and staff, the pupils and their parents, and the governors to hear about the issues which matter to them.
Some schools in the constituency have seen changes made to the 'Age of Transfer', with the remaining village-based first schools (years Reception to Year 5) becoming full Primary schools (up to Year 6). Nick visited the schools involved before the changes came in and has been pleased to see a positive transition since then. The schools have just completed their first full academic year since the changes were made. Nick has been to see some of the new classrooms which have been built to accommodate the extra pupils, and in February he toured Thakeham Primary School which has a new location and building in Storrington.
Nick often welcomes visiting schools to Parliament. A visit to the Palace of Westminster can be an enriching and fascinating experience for children, and extends their learning about democracy, history and politics. If your school would like a tour of Parliament, please contact the Education Service to arrange.