Greater support is needed for young people without diagnosable mental health conditions who cannot access specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, says a new report on young people’s mental fitness.
The report produced by the Think Tank, Localis, stresses that the first point of contact for young people about their mental health is often very poor with an estimated 60% of GP referrals to CAMHS being inappropriate and 22% of referrals going on to be cancelled or poorly attended.
Only 3% of local transformation plans are looking to commission school-based counselling.
The report is calling on the government to include a mandatory module on mental health as part of teacher and social work training.
It also calls for schools to be given the powers to select a lead mental health co-ordinator to encourage a local strategy for school-based mental health services.
The report wants the government to support the provision of school-based support services.
Finally, it calls for NHS England to accelerate their investment into 3,000 practice-based mental health therapists, to provide GPs with support and extra confidence in helping young people with mental health needs directly within the GP clinic.
The report said: “There is a current tendency for many young people to not register on the radar when they try to deal with their problems. Instead of receiving sustained support for their mental health, they bounce around different tiers of services without sustained support. Even after being treated for severe mental health difficulties they often again fall off the radar until they reach another crisis.
“There needs to be a better focus on addressing the challenges that young people face in their mental wellbeing or, as we prefer, mental fitness, rather than solely concentrating on the presence of clinically diagnosable mental health disorders.
“Such a focus would provide agency for young people to – with the support of the wider community – better develop resilience before the involvement of specialist services whilst ensuring that those with severe mental health needs are provided with immediate specialist support.”