Children are admitted to CAMHS if they are considered at high risk of suicide or self-harm, but a programme in Liverpool has demonstrated how a particular form of art therapy rapidly reduced suicidal thoughts and accelerated discharges. The average cost of CAMHS admission is £61,000 and yet the community interest company Comics Youth CIC has saved almost 300 lives in four years at a cost of £375 per person.
The recent news that there were 700,000 referrals of children and young people into mental health services in 2018 in the UK – a dramatic increase of 45% over 24 months – and the report that the number of children in Scotland waiting over a year for CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) treatment has more than trebled – has renewed public emphasis on the stretching of mental health care provision for young people.
One of a number of non-NHS services that has emerged to provide mental health support for children and young people is Comics Youth CIC. Comics Youth, founded in 2015, is the first organisation of its kind in the UK to provide holistic comics-based literacy and wellbeing projects for disadvantaged children and young people aged 8-25 and is based in the Liverpool City Region.
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