The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued standards to improve the care and support of children and young people with depression.
NICE’s quality standard is based on its clinical guideline on depression in children and young people, and is designed to improve the diagnosis and management of those aged 5-18 years old with this condition.
Nearly 80,000 children and young people in the UK suffer from severe depression, including more than 8,000 children aged 10 years old or less.
The standard says:
• Children and young people with suspected depression should have a diagnosis confirmed and recorded in their medical records
• Children and young people need age-appropriate information they can understand about their diagnosis and treatment options, so they can participate in shared decision making
• Prompt access to services is essential if children and young people are to receive the right treatment at the right time. Arrangements should be in place so that children and young people referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) with suspected severe depression and at high risk of suicide are assessed as an emergency, within a maximum 24 hours of referral. Healthcare professionals referring children and young people to CAMHS should ensure they assess the need for a safe place at the point of referral until the assessment by CAMHS is carried out to help prevent injury or worsening of symptoms.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “Depression in children and young people is more common than people might think and can be particularly distressing, both for the child or young person affected and their family. It is important there are clear steps in place to aid healthcare professionals involved in treating children and young people with depression, so that they can deliver the very best levels of care across the NHS.”
Ricky Emanuel, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Royal Free Hospital, London, and member of the specialist committee which developed the quality standard, said: “I hope this quality standard can be used as a template to improve the care received by children and young people with depression in England. There are huge variations in the type and quality of care available, which can have long-term consequences on the child or young person and family themselves, as well as for society as a whole. From the available data, we know that there are increasing numbers of such children and young people who are being seen in a constrained financial environment, which has meant Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are under increasing pressure. The new standards set out the very best care and support for children and young people with depression.”
Lucie Russell, director of campaigns at YoungMinds, which endorsed the quality standard, said: “The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030, more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem. If we are to try and tackle this trend, it is vital that we get care for children and young people right. Over 80,000 children and young people are diagnosed with severe depression in the UK, and it is important that they receive timely, quality care.
“This quality standard will help deliver early intervention for depression in children and young people, and improve service provision. YoungMinds hopes that these quality standards are now implemented, so that children and young people receive the very best care and support.
“We particularly welcome the need for age-appropriate information. Children and young people we work with tell us how important it is to have information that enables them to be involved in decisions about their care.”