Mental health services are failing three-quarters of young people

  • A study has revealed that only a quarter of young people with mental health conditions are receiving the treatment they need.

    An internal presentation produced by NHS England has shown that budget cuts and increasing demands have put the service in crisis. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    The report also highlights that young people in need for treatment for complex mental health conditions and assessments for conditions such as ADHD and autism are being delayed whilst others are not being identified or treated. It notes that only 6% of spending on mental health goes on services aimed at children and young people, reports the Guardian.

    The analysis has been carried out over the past three months and raises concerns that the service is already failing to meet the demands of many users and is being cut further.

    The report also reveals that in England there is only one mental health specialist per 30,000 young people under 20, compared with one per 5,300 in Switzerland, 6,000 in Finland and 7,500 in France.

    A recent survey by YoungMinds has found that two-thirds of local authorities had cut their budgets for young people's mental health.

    "For all the welcome policy announcements from government about children and young people's mental health, the picture on the ground for many children, young people and their families is of services in crisis. The cuts to early intervention services are now causing severe pressures on inpatient beds. It is verging on inhumane for children and young people to end up, as they do now, being shipped hundred of miles across the country for the nearest bed, held in police cells or placed on unsuitable adult wards. We should be ashamed of the paltry support and care we assign to the mental health of children and young people in this country. The presentation explains that a database mapping mental health provision for young people was "discontinued post April 2010". The last national study was done 10 years ago and so we have no up-to-date national information on the numbers of children and young people with mental health problems. Planning service provision without current data is extremely difficult, fraught with risks and not cost-effective," said Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds.

    Dr Jacqueline Cornish, NHS England's national clinical director for children, young people and transition to adulthood, said: "We must make sure children and young people get the right care from the right person as soon as possible. We are specifically investing £17.4m to improve earlier intervention, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems in under-18s, as we know that this is the most efficient and effective way to tackle mental health problems."

    But Enver Solomon, director of evidence and impact at the National Children's Bureau, said that children and young people's mental health had not received the "financial and political priority" it deserved for far too long.

    "It is very clear that there is a damaging lack of clarity on responsibility and accountability for the effective commissioning of children's mental health services as well as an alarming reduction in the provision of specialist and early intervention services,"

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