Revamp of young people’s mental health services sought

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Council leaders have asked for a ‘complete overhaul’ of services for children suffering with mental health issues, to relieve the stress they and their families have to endure during this difficult time.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that the current splintered systems forces children to visit a range of different mental health organisations in a bid to find suitable care. The LGA said that difficulty in understanding the workings of the system makes it complicated to access help.

The association, which represents about 400 councils across England and Wales, said that families should not have to try and navigate this complex system when they are going through such a difficult time.

A further concern of the LGA was that children and young people who need care are being missed because of the lack of funding in the NHS. It stated that only a complete reform of the system will ensure improved services.

The chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board, David Simmonds, said that the most important aspect for councils is to look after young people and to offer them and their families access to the care they require. He said it was not acceptable that these defenceless young people who are looking for help end up falling through the cracks in a system which has been widened due to funding problems.

He said that councils have put in a lot of hard work to protect the range of services available to vulnerable children, but due to the cuts in local government funds, this task has become extremely challenging. Councils have shown commitment and are doing their share of the work, but the system needs to be changed.

The chief executive of the mental health charity, YoungMinds, Sarah Brennan, said that they hear from concerned parents on a daily basis. The parents are either unable to access services or they find themselves stuck on a waiting for months. Clinicians have told the charity that their services have reached breaking point. This means they are forced to increase the thresholds which means only those with severe illness are able to gain access to care.

She said that there is evidence which suggests that if the system is right for children and young people, the mental health burden will be eased for future generations.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said that they want to ensure that young people obtain the mental health care they need. The department is taking immediate action by the commissioning and creation of joined-up services for children and young people, and the availability of more beds.

The department has invested £54m to get specialist treatment to children and the NHS spending is being assessed to ensure that mental health is given the priority it deserves. She said that the department is determined to provide children everywhere with the high-level care they deserve.

Image Credit: Andrew King

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