Young mental health sufferers face problems getting help

29 March 2018 08:52

Some young people start to self-harm or feel suicidal while waiting for support.

Some young people start to self-harm or feel suicidal while waiting for support.

Young people suffering from mental health problems are finding it hard to get the support they need, a survey has revealed.

A total of 2,700 young people who have struggled with mental health issues participated in the survey, which found that only 9% felt it was easy to get the support they needed.

Long waiting periods

The YoungMinds poll of children and young adults up to the age of 25 found that two-thirds (66%) felt it was "difficult" to get help, and only 6% said they believe there is enough support for children and young people with mental health problems.

Among young people who had accessed child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), less than half (44%) said they had found it hard to get an initial referral and 60% said they had faced a long wait between referral and assessment.

YoungMinds said that some youngsters start to self-harm or feel suicidal while waiting for support.

The charity also surveyed 1,600 parents of children who had looked for support.

Over two-fifths (42%) of these parents said that they had struggled getting help from school or college while 29% reported problems getting help from a GP, according to the YoungMinds report.

"These results reflect what we hear every day from young people and parents - that, despite the great progress being made by campaigns like Heads Together to get people talking about mental health, as well as extra government investment, there can still be unacceptable barriers to getting help," said Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds.

Prevention of problems escalating

"We hear from young people who have started to self-harm or become suicidal while waiting for support.

"All the evidence shows that getting the right help quickly can prevent problems from escalating, so it's not good enough that around half of those young people who reach out for help are turned away."

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chairwoman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' child and adolescent faculty, said: "Children and parents are struggling to know when and where to seek help, and often finding themselves on long waiting lists for treatment once they do.

"This is almost entirely a symptom of under resourcing. With the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists down 6.6% since 2013, the waiting lists for treatment are only getting longer.

"If we do not have a robust mental health workforce, we will not be able to support the children in need of treatment."

An NHS England spokesman said that there is a five-year plan for improving mental care for youngsters in place, and is already beginning to make progress across the country. Funding for the improvements is about £100 million.

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