Call the Doctor…problems in the mental health system

A BBC health article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34733952) on child mental health shows that school teachers are having to call 999 or take students to A&E to get them appropriate mental health support. This is one sign of a far bigger problem.

This problem arises from the gap in provision between mental and physical health – the topic of the equality for mental health campaign (sign it here). This means that local mental health services and CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) are no longer able to offer early support to children and young people struggling with their mental health. For our young people this often means many more are reaching crisis point before receiving help, increasingly provided by emergency services.

Even when appropriate services are accessed there is no guarantee of their availability particularly with any form of immediacy. Wait lists are common within the NHS, there is no guarantee that your borough offers the best form of therapy for you and many cannot afford to access private mental helath support in its variety of forms. All of these issues point to the need for abetter system and better provision of mental health services for children and young people as well as the rest of society.

The government are working toward a ‘Future in Mind’ project to improve mental health provision for children and young adults. This aims to improve care for those who are most vulnerable. This will include prevention and early intervention. Despite the ‘Future in Mind’ project and government pledged investment of £1.4bn in young people’s mental health over the next 5 years there is still plenty more to be done. Research suggests that 20% of children have a mental health problem in any given year, and about 10% at any one time(Lifetime Impacts: Childhood and Adolescent Mental Health, Understanding the Lifetime Impacts, 2005). This is a scary statistic without further suggestions that approximately 24,000 suicide attempts are made by 10-19 year olds in England and Wales each year, which amounts to one attempt every 20 minutes. (Eden-Evans, V. (2004) Young People and Suicide). As these numbers show this is hardly an issue we can afford to ignore so get educated about mental health and how you can help.

To sign the equality for mental health petition as above click here.

To sign the Time to Change petition to pledge to end stigma and discrimination in mental health click here.

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