Charity sets out children's mental health priorities for next government

By Joe Lepper

| 09 May 2017

A charity is calling on the next government to take action to avert a "mental health crisis" among young people.

Young Minds wants to see a further £250m to £300m a year spent on children's mental health services between 2020 and 2023. Picture: Newscast Online

Ahead of the snap general election, Young Minds wants all political parties to commit to investing in additional and sustained funding for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), as well as ensure schools effectively support pupils' emotional wellbeing and mental health.

It also wants tougher checks on local clinical commissioning groups, to ensure they are spending an extra £1.4bn allocated for CAMHS until 2020 on its intended target. Last December the charity revealed that some CCGs have "siphoned off" the additional cash to backfill cuts and fund other services.

In addition, Young Minds wants to see a further £250m to £300m a year spent on CAMHS between 2020 and 2023. Legislation to ensure schools and Ofsted inspectors prioritise mental health support and that the issue is included in teacher training are among other measures being called for.

"Right now, far too many vulnerable young people are waiting months for specialist mental health treatment, or being turned away because their problems aren't considered serious enough - even if they are self-harming or feeling suicidal," the charity's chief executive Sarah Brennan said. 

"That is why it's vital that the next government guarantees that services are properly funded."

"As a society, we also need to do far more to prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place. To start with, we urgently need to rebalance our education system, so that schools are able to prioritise wellbeing and not just exam results."

Young Minds also wants politicians to protect the rights of children in mental health hospitals through a charter, after a survey by the charity found that only 43 per cent of parents think their child's mental health has improved through in-patient care.

The charity also wants young people with mental health problems to be given a greater say in their care. And it is concerned that there is a lack of awareness among children's services of the long-term impact childhood trauma can have on mental health.

It wants all children's services to ensure that children who have experienced trauma have access to appropriate support.

The demand comes a month after the Department for Education confirmed that planned trials to assess the mental health of children entering the care system have been delayed.

Yesterday, Labour said that additional funding for child and adolescent mental health services and a commitment to counselling provision in every school would form part of drive to improve child health.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have said all primary and secondary schools in England will be provided with mental health first aid training for staff.

CYP Now is staging a conference on children's mental health Transforming Child Mental Health: Co-Production, Innovation and Impact on 13 July. Speakers include Kathryn Pugh, programme lead for children and young people's mental health at NHS England, and Natasha Devon, mental health campaigner and co-founder of Self-Esteem Team.

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