Monday, 10 November 2014

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

There is a good article in Bournemouth Echo in which a mother recounts long delays in obtaining mental health services for her daughter who had been sexually abused.

The young person was suicidal, yet it is reported that the family waited eight weeks for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to allocate her a support worker, despite the school and the family doctor endorsing the mother’s entreaties for urgent help.

After an attempt to take her own life, the young person was rushed to hospital. The mother reports that ambulance and hospital staff were amazed to discover that the family was not getting any specialist support..

This poignant story coincides with a report from the House of Commons Health Committee, which recounts "increased waiting times for CAMHS services" and "increased referral thresholds" and “challenges in maintaining service quality”.  These are said to result from rising demand and reductions in funding.

Underfunding mental health services for children and young people is a false economy. The long term costs and consequences of untreated psychiatric conditions in childhood and adolescence are enormous: long term ill health, under performance in education and work, dependence on adult mental health services.

And the responsibility of society for children and young people who are abused and neglected does not end with the ending of the abuse. Timely and high quality therapeutic services to treat the consequences and mitigate the impact of being the victim of abuse and neglect should be a right of every child and young person.