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Human Rights Council 32, Geneva: Statement to the UN Special Rapporteur on health 14 June 2016

UK Statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest standards of physical and mental health, 14 June 2016.

Thank you Mr President,

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report, which focuses on health issues of particular relevance to adolescents and highlights the importance of this period in their development into adulthood.

The UK agrees that investment in prevention and early intervention in adolescence can limit adverse impacts of health problems and is cost-effective in the long-term.

We believe building resilience, providing factual information and encouraging adolescents to seek help can assist them to make informed decisions that can influence long-term health behaviours. We acknowledge the challenge of achieving the right balance between supporting parents and supporting adolescents’ emerging autonomy.

We recognise these issues in the UK, not least in relation to accessibility and suitability of mental health support, especially for vulnerable children. Health, education, social care and youth justice are working together to transform the provision of mental health support. We aim to make a shift towards earlier intervention.

We recognise the importance of actively seeking out and listening to the views of adolescents. Health services that are not tailored to their specific needs will not be effective.

We would like to take this opportunity to ask two questions:

• There has been a lot of work done on the economic case for intervention in early life, yet relatively little is known about the benefits of intervening in adolescence. What practical measures would you recommend to Member States in this regard?

• Recent years have seen rapid social change, which has created new challenges for maintaining young people’s wellbeing and emotional health. What practical measures would you recommend to Member States to help them support their young people in building their mental wellbeing?