The mental health system is ‘failing young people’, report shows

A report has shown that the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are unable to adequately support young people who need specialist support.

A Healthy State of Mind, conducted by Localis, has found that the mental health system is failing for reasons such as unhelpful first points of contact, long waiting lists, and doctors fearful that they will ‘get it wrong’. Figures in the report show that an estimated 60 per cent of GP referrals to CAMHS are inappropriate, 22 per cent of appointments were not completed in 2014/15, and only 40 per cent of local transformation plans refer to school-based counselling.

The report says that in order to support the large number of people in need of help we need to ‘break free’ of the current approach to mental health which frames young people as suffering ailments in need of a cure and instead see mental health as existing on a continuum which we all have the capacity to move up or down.

It also calls for the government to implement the following recommendations: a mandatory module on mental health included in initial teach training; guidance given on how government plans to roll free mental health training out; a lead mental health co-ordinator selected to encourage strategies for school-based mental health services; mental health incorporated in social work training; provision of school-based support services supported by government; and investment accelerated into 3,000 practice-based mental health therapists.

Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Well-being Board, has since responded to the report, saying: “Councils have been clear that we need a root and branch overhaul of children’s mental health services that ensures children get access to the right treatment at an early stage. We back the report’s call for mental health to be included in initial teacher training. Teachers know their children best and are ideally placed to talk about the importance of mental well-being in schools and spot changes in behaviour if a child is becoming unwell.

"Community based services can help keep children out of hospital and it is vital that specialist referral systems are also adequately funded to allow intensive counselling to children who need it. Unless we all raise awareness around the need to overcome the stigma associated with mental health issues and provide parents with information on how to discuss mental health with their children, then vulnerable youngsters may remain under the radar, causing lifelong damage and preventing them reaching their true potential.”

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