Children's Mental Health Week takes place every February, and it's an opportunity for schools, families - and politicians - to give a voice to children and young people in the UK.

The public are rightly concerned about young people’s mental ill health and it’s not hard to understand why. The statistics are startling.

In 2020, the Office for National Statistics found that one in six children aged 6-16 had a common mental health disorder: that’s the equivalent of four children in every classroom.

Since then, the pandemic, family’s financial struggles, the general insecurity of conflicts around the world, and fears of climate change have precipitated an explosion in mental ill health amongst our young people.

So what can be done about it? Research by the mental health charity MIND found three things: young people still don’t understand mental health well, school or college is where they’d like to go for help first, and that services need to be quick and treat them as a whole person, not just a condition to fix.

I see this here in St Albans too. Many young people tell me they can’t access the help they need when they need it, local charities like Youth Talk and the Ollie Foundation are experiencing unprecedented demand, and Hertfordshire’s specialist children’s mental health services have long waiting lists.

As your MP, I’ve taken these local concerns and put them on the national stage.

My party and I are calling for change in the way we approach, treat, and consider our children’s mental health.

We want to see a qualified mental health practitioner in every school, paid for by trebling the tax on social media companies.

We want to see walk-in mental health hubs for children and young people in every community - a move that would improve mental health outcomes and save tax-payers money by helping young people before they reach crisis.

We also want to see services recognise the link between mental health and money.

The theme of this year’s Children's Mental Health Week is ‘My Voice Matters’.

So please, if you live, volunteer or work with children and young people, please consider using the free resources for schools and families and find out how you can take part to raise vital funds and awareness for children’s mental health.