Mental health services for children and young people in England need a “complete overhaul,” says a review that found the current system complex and fragmented with too many young people falling through the net.
The Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce was appointed by the government last year to review services in England after a broad consensus that services were not fit for purpose. The taskforce described a complicated structure of services, where multiple bodies planned and contracted services and a lack of clarity existed over who was responsible for which services.1
The result was that children and young people were shunted between services and often fell between gaps in service provision with no accountability for outcomes. The report also noted many reports of insufficient inpatient beds, leading to children being sent to facilities far away from where they lived. Funding arrangements were unclear, the report added, and a lack of information on the cost of services and the scale of problems limited investment.
The government has accepted the review’s recommendations and set out a blueprint for improving care over the next five years, which included making access to care easier, providing better support for families, and providing mental health training to healthcare professionals including GPs.2
The Cabinet Office also announced an extra £1.25bn (€1.74bn; $1.85bn) over the next five years for young people’s mental health services, to help put in place new access and waiting time standards for mental healthcare like those seen in physical health services. The extra funds would also aim to ensure that talking therapies were available to young people all over the country.
Norman Lamb, the care and support minister, said, “I want to change the way we think about mental healthcare 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...