Access and waiting times in children and young people’s mental health services

New report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) examines new data on access to specialist treatment for children and young people with mental health problems, and the waiting times they face. 

This report shows that over a quarter of young people referred to specialist mental health services are not accepted for treatment. Little progress has been made in reducing the high proportion of young people who are not accepted into specialist services despite having been referred by a concerned GP or teacher. While in some areas good quality early intervention services are in place to help these young people, these are not consistently provided across the country.

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Image source: epi.org.uk

When referrals are accepted, young people in many areas are still waiting an unacceptably long time for treatment. The case for national waiting time standards to be put in place is therefore strong. Some progress is, however, being made in reducing waiting times to treatment, which may be due to the additional funding earmarked for children’s mental health services.

Full report: Access and waiting times in children and young people’s mental health services | Emily Frith | Education Policy Institute

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NHS bosses warn of mental health crisis with long waits for treatment

 Report finds 80% fear they cannot provide timely, high-quality care to the growing numbers seeking help | The Guardian

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Image source: The guardian

Mental health services are so overwhelmed by soaring demand that patients are facing long delays to access care, a powerful group of NHS mental health trust bosses have warned.

Widespread shortages of specialist nurses and psychiatrists mean Theresa May’s pledge to tackle the “burning injustice of mental illness” is at risk according to chief executives and chairs from 37 of England’s 53 specialist mental health trusts.

Their concerns are contained in a new report by NHS Providers, which represents almost all of England’s 240 NHS hospital, mental health and ambulance trusts. The report concludes that children, older people and people in a mental health crisis too often receive inadequate care for conditions such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

Read the full news story here

Delivering mental health transformation

This report focuses on progress and challenges in improving children and young people’s mental health services in England, particularly for minority or vulnerable groups. | National Children’s Bureau (NCB)

This report is based on the views of 49 professionals working with children and young people, primarily from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) who responded to an online survey in autumn 2016.

NCB were funded by the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England to gather information from the sector on what needs to happen for the Government’s vision for improved mental health services to be realised for all children, particularly those who are vulnerable, have poorly understood needs, or who face particular challenges accessing the support they need. The information was primarily gathered via an online survey.

The report shares concerns raised by the sector about the system not meeting demand. This relates not just to waiting lists but the amount of time services are able to dedicate to each service user.

Full report: Delivering mental health transformation for all children Findings from engagement with the children and young people’s voluntary sector in Autumn 2016.

Patterns of referral and waiting times for specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Smith, J. et al. Child & Adolescent Mental Health. Published online: 9 February 2017

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Background: During 12-month period (2012/13) around 21,480 children and young people (CYP) were referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Scotland (NHS Scotland, 2013, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services waiting times in Scotland). At the end of September 2012, there were 3,602 CYP still waiting for ‘start of treatment’ or ‘removal from the waiting list’, 375 (10%) CYP had waited over 26 weeks and 1,204 (33%) CYP had waited over 18 weeks (NHS Scotland, 2013, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services waiting times in Scotland). Referral source, referral reason and the sociodemographic characteristics of CYP are not routinely collected, and therefore, associations between these factors and wait times for ‘start of treatment’ or ‘removal from the waiting list’ (i.e. the referral outcome) are unknown.

Conclusions: Policymakers should consider ways to foster dialogue and collaboration between different groups of professionals making and accepting referrals to CAMHS in order to improve timely access to appropriate mental health support services for CYP. Research is urgently needed to investigate the experiences of CYP who are either rejected by CAMHS or wait lengthy periods of time before starting their treatment with CAMHS.

Read the full abstract here

Access to child and adolescent mental health services

A review of access to mental health services by the Children’s Commissioner highlights the long waiting lists and restricted access for those with life-threatening conditions.

Data from public bodies shows that 28% of children referred for specialist mental health treatment in 2015 did not receive a service. A significant proportion of children with life-threatening mental health conditions – 14%  of the 3,000 covered by the data – were denied specialist support. These included children who had attempted suicide or serious self-harm and those with psychosis and anorexia nervosa.

Children and Young People’s Mental Health: State of the Nation

Perraudin, F. The Guardian. Published online: 11th April 2016.

A report from the liberal thinktank CentreForum shows that mental healthcare providers refuse to treat an average of 23% of the under-18s referred to them by concerned parents, GPs, teachers and others.

The analysis also reveals that the longest waiting times endured by users of child and adolescent mental health services have doubled in the last two years, with waiting times of up to two and a half years reported.

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Image source: CentreForum

Among the reasons reported for turning under-18s away included services feeling they lacked the capacity to deal with the problem, the child or young person not having being unwell for a long enough period of time or their condition not yet being serious enough.

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Image source: CentreForum

Researchers found some services denied support to children and young people with anorexia if their body mass index (BMI) was not under a certain threshold. Other services referred people to more generic support unless they had “enduring suicidal ideation”, meaning they had to have expressed a desire to kill themselves on more than one occasion to access more specialist services.

Download the full report here

Read the full commentary here