MHCN EventMental health commissioners from around England called for radical change to the way services for children and adolescents are designed, commissioned and delivered at a recent Mental Health Commissioners Network (MHCN) event.   

An overhaul of services, including the need for parity of esteem and increased funding, was the key theme for more than 70 mental health leads from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities at the Transforming Child and Adolescent Mental Health Care Through Commissioning Conference, held on March 13. MHCN is part of NHS Clinical Commissioners, the independent collective voice of CCGs.

Keynote speaker Camila Batmanghelidjh CBE, a psychotherapist and founder of two children’s charities, outlined the challenges and opportunities of commissioning effective mental health services for children and young people and said "love has the power to change things and love can be organised.”

Further reading: Clear path to improve child mental health say YoungMinds

Fellow speakers Dr Jackie Cornish OBE and Professor Peter Fonagy picked up on that theme by discussing the negative impact of age-based cut-off points for services, and the impact of deeply ingrained silo working in the different agencies responsible for young people’s health and wellbeing. 

A lack of good quality, up-to-date data was also highlighted, as was the increasing pressure on services, particularly at Tier 4 level, and the resulting impact through other tiers of the system.

In concluding the day, Mental Health Commissioners’ Network Chair Dr Phil Moore called for young people’s mental health to be recognised as a national issue with budgets and resources allocated appropriately; for services to be designed on the basis of need and appropriateness rather than age
Delegates’ recommendations for change, also included an increased profile for mental health impact assessments, will be submitted as evidence to the current Health Select Committee enquiry on children’s and adolescent mental health and shared with other key stakeholders.

Pictured (r-l): Camila Batmanghelidjh and Dr Phil Moore speaking with a delegate at the event