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Revamp for youth mental health care

A shake-up of youth mental health care will be announced by the Government today.

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said children and young people's mental health services need a complete overhaul to stop vulnerable young people missing out on vital support.

The Government has set out a blueprint for improving care over the next five years as a taskforce report is published into children and young people's mental health and well-being.

Labour said the report found the most vulnerable children have been left without the support they need.

Proposals include developing a targeted campaign to tackle stigma and improve attitudes to mental illness, along with changing the way services are commissioned.

Every area should have a " one-stop-shop" service to provide mental health support and advice to children and young people in the community, while youngsters will have access to online tools and apps.

Ensuring continued support is offered throughout teenage years and into the early 20s is also laid out, along with training for people working with children and young people in identifying potential mental health problems.

Improved care for children and young people in crisis to make sure no one under 18 and experiencing a mental health crisis is detained in a police cell is also a priority.

It comes as the Government announced that this week's Budget will include a £1.25 billion funding boost for young people's mental health care.

Mr Lamb said: "Children and young people face enormous challenges - from exam pressures and starting higher education or work, to relationships and peer pressure - and these can be intensified by constant exposure to social media.

"I want to change the way we think about mental health care so that any child, whether they have a mental illness or simply need support through a difficult time, can get the right help at the right time.

"There are some excellent examples of areas that have got this right with 'one-stop-shop' services in the community, information and support online via apps, and help for whole families. These plans set out how we can ensure no child is left struggling alone."

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of charity YoungMinds, said: "The current system is too fractured, too complex and too under-resourced. Without change it will continue to fail child after child and family after family.

"We welcome the report of the taskforce but this has to be the start of a journey and not the end."

Mental Health Network's director of policy Rebecca Cotton said: "Around one in 10 children aged between five and 16 years of age will have a mental health problem, and all too often those children do not currently access the help and support they need.

"Over the past few years, it's been positive to see increasing attention being paid to mental health by political leaders from all parties. However, over the last five years that increased attention has sadly not translated into investment on the ground.

"In fact, we have decidedly moved backwards. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have been subject to unacceptable cuts over the past few years.

"That's why the Government's commitment of an extra £250 million a year in funding for CAMHS, expected in Wednesday's Budget, will be particularly welcomed by providers of mental health services. This much-needed investment should enable more children can access the help they need in future."

Shadow public health minister Luciana Berger said: "The report's authors found that David Cameron's NHS reorganisation created confusion and fragmentation which, when combined with funding cuts, left the most vulnerable children without the support they need.

"This Tory-Lib Dem Government promised that physical and mental health services would be treated with the same importance but instead all we have seen is a £50 million cut to children's mental health services, a loss of 3,300 specialist mental health nurses and 1,500 mental health beds.

"Twice as many children are turning to A&E because they are not getting the necessary mental health support and too many are sent hundreds of miles from home, held in police cells or put on adult wards because there is nowhere else for them to go.

"This is completely unacceptable. Labour has a better plan to put mental health at the heart of our NHS by integrating mental health, physical health and social care into one service.

"We will invest an extra £2.5 billion each year in the NHS, increase the proportion of the mental health budget spent on children and recruit 20,000 more nurses, including mental health specialists."


From Belfast Telegraph