A taskforce review of current services provided within the UK indicates that the number of children with severe and complex mental health issues is growing rapidly. As a result, a plan is in place to improve mental health services within a five year timeframe. Why? At the moment those under the age of 18 are just not getting the services they are in need of.
Care Minister’s Son Makes This Personal for Him
Having spoken candidly about his own son’s addictions and mental health issues, Norman Lamb, as Care Minister, is working towards making taskforce recommendations fall into place. In his words, the system needs a “complete overhaul.”
It is his goal to change the way in which mental health services are thought of so that all children will get the help they need. His intent is to get them help whether they are simply going through a rough time or have mental health issues to be dealt with.
Nick Clegg Announces Budget Increase
Over the past weekend, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, announced that there would be a £1.25 billion increase for mental health. Much of that budget will be geared towards ensuring that 100,000 extra young people and children will get the help needed by the year 2020.
The taskforce is headed by senior officials at NHS England along with the Department of Health. It is their view that current services are foggy with the responsibility being lost somewhere between the NHS and councils. The report by the taskforce also concludes that budget squeeze and the alarming rate of increases in referrals has resulted in delayed treatment.
Alarming Statistics in Child Mental Health
According to the report, child mental health statistics are alarming. The findings are that three-quarters of all mental health problems in adults first presented before they were 18. Further statistics are even more alarming.
- Pre-school age children, 28% face issues that have a direct impact on mental health development
- One of every six in the 16 to 24 age bracket has a common mental health problem
- One in every ten in the 5 to 16 year old bracket has mental health problems
- Half a million young people and children state that they are generally dissatisfied and unhappy with their lives
Research in the past indicates that few young people actually get the help they need with mental health, fewer than 35% of them.
Statistics also indicate that many children and young people had no special care but were relegated to adult wards. This is the result of a BBC News investigation. Some even had to travel literally hundreds of miles to get the help and care they needed.
Taskforce Outlines Measures to Be Taken
Ministers are expected to accept the recommendation of the taskforce which includes:
- Hard-hitting campaign on anti-stigma
- Targets to reduce waiting times
- Services (one-stop-shop) to direct young people to available care
- Support that continues through the teen years until 20 so as not to leave them dangling on the edge of a cliff at 18
- Improved online tools and self-help apps
- Care closer to home for young people and children in crisis
- Better training for those working with children such as GPs and school staff
One of the head taskforce officials, Dr. Martin McShane says this review sets the groundwork going forward. As well, Sarah Brennan of Young Minds believes the current mental health system is broken, fractured. It has too few resources and is certainly too complex. Unless something changes, she feels that families and children will continue to be failed. Brennan feels that implementing change is what matters at the moment.