Children and young people are struggling to access support for mental health issues due to fragmented services that vary in quality, health body finds.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its report today into the first phase of a Government-commissioned review of mental health services for children and young people in England.
The report warns too many young people find it difficult to access services and so do not receive the care that they need when they need it.
‘There has been an 87% increase in Childline counselling sessions with children and young people who are struggling to access local mental health services,’ according to the report.
‘Public Health England estimates suggest that only 25% of children and young people who need treatment for a mental health problem are able to access it.’
Access difficulties are often made worse by the complicated and fractured system of services created by a lack of joined-up working, as well as a skills shortage which means mental health needs are not always recognised.
CQC has rated 39% (26 services) of specialist community child and adolescent mental health services as ‘requires improvement’ and 2% (1 service) as ‘inadequate’ against CQC’s ‘responsive’ key question, which looks at whether people access care and treatment in a timely way.
The research found that when young people were able to access care, they often received good service. CQC rated 59% of specialist community services as good and 9% as outstanding, and 73% of specialist inpatient services as good and 7% as outstanding.
However, they rated 5% (3 services) of specialist inpatient services and 3% (2 services) of specialist community services as ‘inadequate’ for safety, and 30% (18 services) of specialist inpatient services and 39% (26 services) of specialist community services as ‘requires improvement’ for safety. Responding to the report, Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector (lead for mental health) said: ‘There are many people out there working to make sure that children and young people who experience mental health issues are offered caring support. Their dedication is to be celebrated.
‘However, we must also address those times when a child or young person feels let down or not listened to and make sure the same level of support is available to each and every one of them.
‘The commissioning of this review indicates that the Government considers children and young people’s mental health to be a national priority.
‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health sets out plans to improve access to high quality care close to home and more money has been allocated to develop these vital services.
‘The complexity and fragmentation of the system is an obstacle that must be overcome if this new investment is to result in better services to meet the mental health needs of children and young people.’