Mental health is becoming widely recognised as a critical and substantive issue that affects children and young people. The most up-to date research shows that 1 in 10 children and young people suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder at any given time (Green et al., 2004). If they don’t receive the right support, this can significantly impact upon their health, well-being and quality of life, for example affecting their chances of having a full-time job.
CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) are the statutory body in the NHS responsible for providing specialist mental health care for young people up to 18 years old. A recent review of CAMHS published by the Health Committee in 2014 concluded that there are serious and long-standing problems within the commissioning and provision of services. Key concerns included; increased waiting times and referral thresholds for patients; commissioners giving insufficient priority to children and young people’s mental health; young people being the least likely to seek support, despite having the greatest need; and vastly different levels of service quality being provided across the country.
The Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Well-being Taskforce was established by the Department of Health and NHS England to look at how CAMHS could be improved. It brings together experts on children and young people’s mental health and those who have knowledge and experience of system change across the education, social care and health sectors. A core principle of their investigations is also to consult with children, young people and families to elicit their views on mental health and mental health services.
The Taskforce will look specifically how CAMHS could be better organised, commissioned and provided by establishing:
- What children and young people need from CAMHS to support their mental health, and how to promote their wellbeing and resilience
- How improvements to the system can be achieved by considering what barriers exist that prevent change and how these can be overcome
- Ways to improve the perception of CAMHS and stigma attached to mental health and to seeking support
The Taskforce will make recommendations to the Ministers and agree upon actions that are aimed at improving outcomes for children and young people with mental health problems.
Let us hope that this will be a positive step forward to driving change within the system to ensure that children and young people are more able to access support that is more accessible and effective in meeting their needs.
– Jo Davison, Peer Coordinator