It has been a huge privilege to support the Down’s Syndrome Bill on behalf of the Government. Last week, as the Minister responsible, I took it through its third reading which is the last House of Commons stage before going to the Lords for scrutiny. The Bill, which was put forward by Dr. Liam Fox MP, has been supported by a huge number of people with Down’s syndrome and their families. When it becomes law, it will mean that local authorities must assess and plan to meet the needs of people with Down's syndrome in areas like housing, care, and education. Plus, it will place a duty on the government to provide guidance on how to best support people with the syndrome.
As an aunt to a young boy with Down’s syndrome, I know how desperately needed this legislation is. I’ve met with many constituents, as well as, parents at the Apuldram Centre who’ve had to fight to get the support their family needs. This Bill is a hugely important step to rectifying the situation – it feels like the right time, right place, as the Minister I was able to support it wholeheartedly.
This week we are marking Children’s Mental Health Week. Children and young people were uniquely impacted by the pandemic and they showed incredible resilience throughout. Currently, half of those who experience mental health challenges in their lifetime will have symptoms before the age of 14. That is why we’re making nearly 400 mental health support teams accessible to almost 3 million school and college pupils in England by 2023, surpassing the commitment made in the 2017 Mental Health Green Paper.
We know that early intervention is key to addressing mental health – so putting in place support from school will help us ensure every child has the best chance to live a healthier, happier life.