Mental Health Services for Children & Young People - Transformation Plan
Why is the mental health of young people such a key priority?
The mental well-being of children and young people is important to us all. For young people themselves, good mental health means that they can get the best out of their life, including their education, their friendships and their family. For society, having young people with good mental well-being gives us a firm foundation on which communities can grow and thrive.
This means that the way we provide Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is really important. If we make these services as good as we can, then everyone benefits.
The national ambitions for improving the mental health of young people are set out by NHS England in the document Future in Mind. On this page we have set out how this will look locally.
Why transform services?
The first reason we need to transform these services is because the waiting times are currently too long. The demand on the services has never been higher, not just in our area, but all over the country. So we need to find a way to ensure that everyone the support they need sooner.
The second reason we need to transform young people’s mental heath services is because we need to do better at preventing mental illness. In many cases, the upset and distress young people experience is actually a very understandable reaction to how their life is at the time. If we can get support such as advice and counselling to those young people early enough, we can sometimes prevent that emotional distress turning into a long term or serious mental health problem.
What changes are being made?
The transformation plan is wide ranging and complex. A link to the full plan is here. In summary, a range of organisations will work together to either improve existing services, or create new services, with one shared vision in mind. This vision is that:
· No child or young person will have a preventable mental health issue
· If they do, they will not wait to get the effective help they need
The organisations that are working together to achieve this vision includes the NHS, local councils, schools and voluntary groups. We will of course work closely with people in the local community, including young people who have experience of mental health conditions and their parents.
Below is a summary of some key features of our plan to transform young people’s mental health and well-being services. This summary just picks out some important aspects of the plan. A fuller and more detailed overview is available here.
Online and Face-to-Face Counselling
We are extending our range of ‘early intervention’ services that can support young people as soon as they need help. A new development is that mental health professionals can now offer counselling and support over the internet. This has already been set up in some areas and has proved very popular with young people, as well as effective in improving their mental well-being. Combining internet based services with face to face counselling will create what we call a ‘blended’ model of mental health support. Together, they will make sure that young people get the right help at the right time.
Of course, the mental health services for those with more serious or specialist needs will still be there too. These include the secondary care ‘CAMHS’ services provided by Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust. The early intervention programmes will work hand in hand with these services. In particular, by extending the range of early intervention programmes, we can take some of the demand off specialist CAMHS services and so reduce waiting times.
Eating Disorders Services
We will be expanding the Eating Disorder Services for children and young people and putting in place strict targets for how long people wait for support. All referrals will go through the well-established ‘common point of entry’ (CPE) team. The service will aim to see more young people more quickly and offer services to those who don’t necessarily meet the criteria for being considered ‘urgent’. There will also be the option for young people to self refer. As time goes on we will make sure that this service is looked at carefully to make sure it is meeting people’s needs.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder and ADHD
There is an urgent need to ensure there is better, co-ordinated support for vulnerable young people after they have been diagnosed. This includes children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Aside from improved services for young people affected by these conditions, there will be more help and advice for schools and families.
Unfortunately, stigma around mental health and illness is not yet a thing of the past. There are still some in our society who view mental illness as ‘strange’ or even ‘dangerous’, often because they have never managed to properly understand mental health conditions or those that have them. This has an impact in two key ways. First, people with mental health conditions can still face unfair treatment or even verbal and physical abuse simply because of their mental health diagnosis or symptoms. Second, it means that people who become concerned about their mental health, or the mental health of someone they know, are often afraid to ask for help. More information is here at the Time to Change website.
As part of transformation of mental health services will be running programmes to better understand and accept mental illness. We will work with young people to develop creative projects and run sessions in schools in a way that not only increases their knowledge about mental health, but gives them confidence to ask for help if ever they or someone close to them needs it.