Today, we welcomed the concluding report by the Independent Children and Young People’s Mental Health Commission [coordinated by the Education Policy Institute] on the transformation of children and young people’s mental health services in England, Time to Deliver. Three quarters of all mental health problems emerge by the age of 18 and the report has found that specialist mental health services are, on average, turning away 23%, or almost one in four, children and young people referred to them for treatment. The Institute also identified a postcode lottery of waiting times for those whose referrals were accepted. In the report, the Commission sets out a number of policy recommendations for government including calls for a ‘Prime Minister’s Challenge’ on children and young people’s mental health.
We were pleased to see an emphasis on partnership working in the report, with a recognition that NHS is not the only part of the children’s mental health system and cannot provide all the early intervention support alone, and a recommendation that this should mean strengthening, and building on the [often voluntary sector] services that already exist. It is crucial that the valuable role of the voluntary and community sector is recognised, and that the VCSE sector is involved in the local area, as well as statutory early intervention services. The sector is an integral part of the health and social care system and should be treated as an equal partner in the delivery of services.
Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of MHPF, commented:
“There has a been a significant rise in children and young people seeking help for mental health problems over the last five years and there is also a significant treatment gap, with young people being turned away from services or waiting a long time for treatment. In these instances, especially, it is important to understand that at both national and local levels, the VCSE and statutory sectors need to work with each other, and rather than expecting all support to be offered by the NHS, the valuable services offered by voluntary and community organisations should be utilised.”
MHPF, as the national alliance of voluntary sector mental health service providers, will continue to champion the positive and demonstrable difference our members and other voluntary and community organisations make to improve the mental health needs of people. We will continue to support the delivery of services to improve outcomes for individuals, including children and young people.