Children let down by mental health services

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There are serious problems with children’s and adolescents’ mental health services, according to a review from the Health Committee. Disturbing findings include the fact that a shortage of beds results in children and young people being sent to distant parts of the country and even, at times, waiting in prison cells. In 2012/13, 263 children and young people were detained in a police cell when waiting for a mental health assessment.

Sarah Brennan, the chief executive of the YoungMinds charity, commented, “for far too long we have heard over and over again from young people and their families about the overwhelming distress caused by lack of access to mental health services.” She added that the Health Select Committee report proves beyond all doubt that children and young people’s mental health services are facing a major crisis.

The Central and North West London NHS Trust (CNWL), which provides Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMH) in Kensington and Chelsea, was one of a number of organisations that provided information for the Health Committee’s Review. It also provided information for the national Parliamentary Health Scrutiny Committee review alongside many other groups. They told KCW Today that they believe the report to be robust, challenging and based on clear evidence. A spokesperson said, “the review concluded that more children are in need of services and interventions, services are working beyond capacity, and families and schools are struggling.”

Talking specifically about the borough, however, they said, “Our CAMH services in RBKC are high performing and are well resourced.” However, they added, that along with all sectors they face financial challenges and acknowledged that they have also experienced difficulties in getting timely access to specialist beds for adolescents.

The Government has set up the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce to deal with the crisis and will be reporting in spring next year. Brennan, however, is underwhelmed with the Government’s response. “Instead of more high level ambitions we need concrete actions on the ground that actually deliver the Health Select Committee’s recommendations, thus creating real and lasting change for children, young people and their families.”

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