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Joined up Mental Health Care for the Young

November 19, 2019 6:44 PM
By Fiona Southern

Joined up, Properly Funded Mental Health Care Provision for the Young

One of the most serious issues facing the UK today is mental health, particularly in young people. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year of whom one quarter will be aged 18 or under; one in seven 11 to 16-year-olds has a mental disorder. We know that children and young people today face new emotional demands, many brought on by social media, but our mental health care systems have not adapted to this growing need and are chronically underfunded with serious structural issues. The mental health care system is complex and fragmented; it is planned, funded, provided and overseen by many different organisations that do not always work together in a joined-up way leading to disjointed care. [1]

Mental Health Care for young people (Gordon Johnson from Pixabay)

When children and their families first try to access help for a mental health problem, many struggle to get timely and appropriate care. The Association of Child Psychotherapists reports that too much treatment is focussed on symptoms rather than the whole child. [2] The availability of services provided varies from one part of the country to the next.

Mental Health Care for the young (Silent Catastrophe - Association of Child Psychotherapists)

Transforming Mental Health Care

The Liberal Democrats are committed to transforming mental health care and will ringfence funding and invest heavily, in the childhood and adolescent mental health services that communities need. We will prioritise children's services when introducing further maximum waiting time standards for mental health care and will support college and university students to stay mentally healthy, requiring universities to make mental health services accessible to their students, and ensuring the quality of those services.

Care Closer to Home

The availability of mental health beds is a major concern; Health Trusts are struggling with dangerously high levels of bed occupancy and are being forced to send seriously ill people hundreds of miles away for care. In July this year, 745 people in England were being treated outside their home area. The Care in the Community Initiative has resulted in a 73% fall in the number of NHS mental health beds over the last thirty years but out of hospital mental health care has not been expanded by a corresponding level. [3] The Liberal Democrats will increase mental health services and facilities so that no one is forced to travel unreasonable distances away from home.

Social Prescribing

Whilst improving medical care for mental health is a priority it is also important to recognise the impact that social isolation, poor physical health and nature deficit can have on an individual's well-being. Individuals with long term health conditions who have participated in social prescribing schemes have experienced improved mental health and become more independent and less isolated. [4] As your local MP, Julia Aglionby, will work with local NHS providers and voluntary organisations to provide opportunities for social prescribing in and around the city and seek to ensure that green space in Carlisle is accessible and safe for all.

  1. Care Quality Commission Review of Children and Young People's Mental Health Services 2019
  2. Silent catastrophe - ACP
  3. Royal College of Psychiatrists report into the availability of mental health beds 6/11/2019
  4. Sheffield Hallam University - The Social and Economic Impact of the Rotherham Social Prescribing Pilot 2014