Emily Frith, director of mental health and rehabilitation at CentreForum, outlines concerns about the plight of children and young people with mental health problems who are denied swift NHS treatment.
One child or young person in 10 has a mental health problem – that’s three in every classroom. Mental health problems can have a major impact on a young person’s life chances. At the extreme end, suicide is the leading cause of death in boys and young men. People with mental health problems are more likely to lose out in the education system and struggle to find work, or earn less when they get older.
CentreForum is an independent think tank specialising in education and young people’s mental health. Our recent report titled Children and Young People’s Mental Health: The state of the nation found that, on average, mental health services are turning away nearly a quarter of children referred to them for treatment.
Those who do get access to care often have to wait months to be seen. There are no targets for waiting times so our research uncovered a postcode lottery in the length of time young people would have to wait for treatment.
Last year, the Department of Health published Future in Mind, a new vision for child and adolescent mental health services, alongside a pledge of £1.25 billion over the next five years.
Our report calls for much better data collection so that we have a clearer idea of what is really happening on the frontline, and so we can better measure progress in improving services. CentreForum’s Commission will also explore progress in delivering the commitments set out in Future in Mind, and will make clear policy recommendations to government.
One key issue is the importance of integrating children’s mental health care with physical health.
Physiotherapists will understand the link between a young person’s physical health problems and their mental health needs. It is vital that all services think about how to treat a young person holistically in order to help their recovery.
- Emily Frith is director of mental health and rehabilitation at CentreForum
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