The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) has called for the government to reinstate the child and adolescent psychiatric morbidity survey as a matter of urgency.
RCPsych believes that the survey, which has not been carried out for almost a decade, would provide vital data on children and young people’s mental health and help improve the commissioning and delivery of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
There has been a large increase in young people’s mental health problems in the past 25 years. One in 10 children and young people are said to have a diagnosable mental disorder. Half of all diagnosable mental health problems, with the exception of dementia, start before the age of 14.
RCPsych said that identifying these problems and providing the right support at an early stage should be a priority. Yet there is a major crisis in provision of child and adolescent in-patient beds, and there has been no new survey of child and adolescent mental health needs since 2004.
In a briefing sent to MPs ahead of a Commons Adjournment Debate on child and adolescent in-patient mental health services debate, held on October 24, the RCPsych also called for:
- All agencies that work with children and young people, including GPs, schools, local authority children’s services and mental health trusts, need to work together to plan, commission and deliver the full range of CAMHS services that are needed
- A standard level of service to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of all young people, regardless of where they live, to reduce the ‘postcode’ lottery
- Commissioners to ensure that antenatal and postnatal education for parents includes a focus on the emotional wellbeing of both the infant and the parents. More investment is also needed in perinatal and parent-infant mental health services to work with vulnerable parents and families where there are parenting difficulties
- Public Health England and local authorities to promote the importance of children and young people’s mental health and ensure local needs are addressed.
Dr Peter Hindley, chair of RCPsych’s Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said: “We are facing major difficulties across all areas of child and adolescent mental health services, but especially admissions to child and adolescent inpatient units. Without reliable scientific data about the frequency of child and adolescent mental health problems it is very difficult to develop coherent guidance on current and future provision of services.”