children counsellingThe Royal College of Psychiatrists has issued new guidelines on when children and young people should be seen by a psychiatrist. 

‘When to see a child and adolescent psychiatrist’ has been written by psychiatrists to clarify for commissioners, mental health service providers, patients and clinicians when patients should be seen by a child and adolescent psychiatrist to ensure that they receive safe, high-quality, evidence-based care.

The guidelines include information clarifying the role of the child and adolescent psychiatrist, what they do, the standards to which child and adolescent psychiatrists will work and training and research.

Dr Peter Hindley, chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Mental health services are going through a significant process of change, driven by many factors. These include the desire of patients to be more involved in their care, the new commissioning arrangements for health services in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and the financial pressures facing healthcare across the UK.

“Other factors include changing professional roles and responsibilities for clinicians, and the development of innovative services that are supporting patients, as far as possible, to receive treatment in their communities rather than in hospital beds.

“It is important at a time of such significant change that there is clarity about the roles and responsibilities of all professionals caring for patients within the multidisciplinary teams in which they work.

“We hope these new guidelines will inform health professionals, commissioners, patients and families about the work child and adolescent psychiatrists do and act as a useful resource and source of support,” he said.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of mental health charity YoungMinds, welcomed the guide. She said: “This is a really helpful document, which covers many of the questions that health professionals ask about the profession and how psychiatrists work.

“We hope that the information it contains leads to great understanding between the profession and other health professionals and thus closer working relationships.

“We would also very much like the information to be translated into accessible guides for parents and for children and young people. This will mean they too can benefit from this knowledge and thus build bridges with clinicians so they can get the support and expertise they so desperately need.”