Health care, education and public services are not working together effectively to prevent children and young people reaching ‘crisis point’ even before accessing services, says a new report published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC report says that it welcomes the government’s proposal to establish mental health support teams in schools but believes that ‘unless the pace of delivery is accelerated, these commitments will not be enough to achieve the scale of change that is required to protect children and young people from unnecessary distress and avoidable deterioration in their mental health.’
CQC is calling for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to use the inter-ministerial group on mental health to guarantee greater collaboration across government departments in how their policies prioritise the mental health needs and wellbeing of children and young people in England.
The body is asking for changes to how local bodies work together to support and care for children and young people with mental health needs and for national bodies to champion and enable this change by ensuring their work does not reinforce the boundaries between services, which can lead to people’s care and access to services feeling fragmented.
Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (lead for mental health) at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), said: “Children and young people deserve to have their mental health needs and wellbeing put at the heart of every decision, be that planning, commissioning or resourcing. Currently, this is not the reality everywhere and we heard from too many young people who felt they could only access care at a crisis point because local services are not working together, or are not able to work together effectively to support their mental health and wellbeing.
“Despite the pressure the system is facing, we saw dedicated staff across the country who embodied this vision and whose work presents an opportunity to transform and improve the experience of children and young people with mental health needs. With children’s mental health a high priority for Government, we must grasp this opportunity. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health sets out the right ambition for service improvement in mental health, but national bodies must work together and champion creative and effective solutions that go beyond the traditional boundaries of health and social care.
“Our report provides clear recommendations based on listening to children and young people, as well as looking at all the organisations with a role to play in this area. We all need to act now and to act together. If we do not, we risk letting down children and young people across the country and undermining their potential in adult life.”
“We welcome this report as not only does it highlight current issues within Children and Young People’s services but it also emphasises a number of positive case studies," said Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation.
“It is important to highlight that there are some great things happening in Child and Adult Mental Health services – notably our members at North East London Foundation Trust whose Brookside ward has gone from a CQC rating of ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’ in just one year."
“We also back the recommendations in the report, such as more flexible models of care – including the opportunity to embrace new technology such as online counselling services. Our members XenZone are currently providing ground breaking online Child and Adult Mental Health services."