20/07/21 – Are we failing young minds?

‘CHILDREN IN CRISIS: ARE WE FAILING YOUNG MINDS?’

That’s the title of a groundbreaking television programme, broadcast by ITV Central recently (https://www.itv.com/news/central/2021-07-15/children-in-crisis-are-we-failing-young-minds).

Yasmin Bodalbhai, ITV News Central expresses her own shock at what she and her investigators encountered:

‘It started with a simple social media post.

When we first asked viewers to share their experiences of child mental health provision, we knew we would get some response – we’d been hearing anecdotally about parents struggling to get help for their child’s mental health problems. But we weren’t prepared for the avalanche of comments and emails’.

Some of the comments from desperate parents included:

‘I know they are significantly underfunded but where do you go for help?’

‘I have been awaiting assessment for my son for over 2 years now, every time I call, I get told, ‘we are sorry but we don’t have any funding’

And

‘I think the only way she will get help is if she tries to kill herself then maybe they will finally help her.’

The powerful programme saw parents, children, GPs, therapists in schools and CAMHS representative alike, in despair and turmoil; only too glad to air their own experiences in the hope that the Government would at last understand the reality of the life that they have to live day by day, minute by minute.

The Minister for Mental Health, Nadine Dorries was unavailable for interview but stated that:

  • The Government is providing an additional £2.3 billion a year to mental health services by 2023
  • The funding will give an additional 345,000 children access to NHS-funded services or school and college-based support by 2024
  • An additional £500 million has been invested in a cross-government Mental Health Recovery Action plan which will specifically target support to those most impacted by the pandemic, including individuals with severe mental illnesses, young people and frontline staff.

In addition:

  • There is some funding to train mental health leads in school to focus on mild to moderate mental health issues
  • The Government affirms that it is ‘on track’ for 35% of schools to have Mental Health Support Teams by 2023
  • The Children’s Commissioner says that at this rate, 65% of schools will still not have Mental Health Support Teams by 2023
  • Research funded by the National Institute for Health Research found that some schools and colleges had reported that the Mental Health Support Teams were not able to support some of their children and young people who were most in need of support.

These are serious shortfalls.