Children suffering from mental health problems do not have access to the support they need, figures have shown.

A Freedom of Information request obtained by medical publication, Pulse revealed six out of 10 children referred to mental health services by their GPS did not go on to receive treatment.

The investigation showed that 61% referrals are not treated, with more than a third of children refereed not even assessed.

Alarmingly, a GP in North-West Wales said young patients ‘must be actively suicidal’ to get help. A GP in the Southwest region reported that children ‘have to be suffering from psychosis or a serious suicide attempt before CAHMS will see them’. Self-harming, he said, was not a criteria they accept.

The figures reveal that children are not receiving the proper care and treatment for mental health issues.

Future in Mind

In March 2015 the Department of Health in conjunction with NHS England published the Future In Mind report. Aimed at promoting, protecting and improving children’s mental health, it revealed one out of 10 children need support or treatment with mental health problems. It also showed that less than 25%-35% of children with a diagnosable mental health problem accessed support.

The report in 2015 was critical of the NHS and revealed an increase in referrals and waiting times was perpetuating the problem. Providers, they noted, reported increased complexity and severity of presenting problems.

In solution, the report sets out a clear national ambition in the form of key proposals to transform services for children and young people with mental health needs.

Alarmingly, figures gained from the Freedom of Information request show very little has been done.

 

Failing the next generation

Dr. Dominique Thompson, a GP in Bristol specialising in young people’s mental health told the Guardian UK that the figures released shows that CAHMS were ‘failing the next generation’.

“We risk our CAHMS becoming a source of national shame if they continue to be so poorly resourced,” Ms. Thompson said.

NHS England chief executive acknowledged the need for change. Speaking to the NHS Confederation in June he revealed CAHMS was the ‘most creaking part’ of the NHS mental health sector.

Other Ways

Ann Atkins, founder of creative mental health workshop Normal? Education encourages “other ways” to combat mental illness in children.

Her creative workshop is targeted at children in schools. A one-hour inclusive programme defines and tackles the issue of mental illness for children. Ms. Atkins also sets out clear guidelines in how to deal with issues of depression, anxiety and
self-harm.

The response, Ms. Atkins said is ‘overwhelming’.

In March 2015 former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg unveiled an extra $1.25bn to be spent on mental health services. Despite the increased funding in mental health services children remain unaccounted for.

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