Young people refused access to mental health facilities

  • Figures show young people suffering with mental health issues are being forced into police custody as a result of NHS "places of safety" banning under sixteen's in the UK. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    The Care Quality Commission has found that 56 out of 161 facilities, which includes hospitals, will not admit people under the age of sixteen and half of them ban under seventeens. The watchdog has said a worrying number of young people now end up in police cells, reports the BBC.

    The CQC has said that people who suffer a mental health crisis in a public place should be taken to a place of safety to have their needs assessed, whether it is a specialist mental health hospital or an emergency department at a general hospital. However the reports found that many places do not accept under sixteens and some facilities in England do not accept under eighteens.

    Dr Paul Lelliott, CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said the situation affecting young people was "worrying".

    "They should certainly not be taken to police stations routinely," he added.

    Lucie Russell, from charity Young Minds, told the BBC: "What they're going to feel is, 'I'm a prisoner, I've done something terribly wrong. So the fact that I'm distressed and traumatised and confused and frightened must mean that it's my fault because I've been locked up.' Being surrounded by four walls in a police cell for anyone is a traumatic experience."

    Sophie Corlett, from charity Mind, said it was "shameful" that some counties had capacity for only one person at a time, and the CQC figures should be "a wake-up call".

    Care Minister Norman Lamb said it was "unacceptable for a child in a mental health crisis to be taken to a police cell because there is no health-based place of safety".

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