Care Quality Commission Review Finds Urgent Action Required For CAMHS

After conducting a review of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), the Care Quality Commission have published their recommendations for improvement in a new report.

Local services must work together more effectively to support and care for children and young people’s mental health, a report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found.

Published on 8 March, the report highlights what makes it easier, and harder, for local services to provide high-quality and accessible mental health care for children and young people.

In January 2017, the CQC were asked to conduct a review of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by the Prime Minister. The CQC examined the care and support available in ten local areas across England, and reviewed how well local health care and public services worked together.  More than 1,300 young people, carers and professionals were interviewed to understand how children and young people accessed mental health services in their area. The CQC found that many children and young people were at ‘crisis point’ before accessing mental health care because the local services in their area were not working together as effectively as they could.

Based on their findings, the CQC have made recommendations to local services, and Government, to improve the mental health care available for children and young people. These recommendations include greater collaboration across government departments, to ensure children and young people’s mental health is a higher priority.

Our Chief Executive, Sarah Brennan says:

We strongly support the CQC’s call for better joined up services and for young people to be at the heart of decisions made about care. The quality of treatment that CAMHS provides can be excellent, but it varies across the country, and too often young people find it desperately hard to get any help at all.

"Every day we get calls to our Parents Helpline from parents whose children have been waiting up to 18 months for treatment, or who have been told that they don’t meet the threshold for services in their area. We regularly hear from young people who have started to self-harm or become suicidal while waiting for appropriate help, and who have ended up going to A&E because they haven’t been able to find support elsewhere. This simply shouldn’t be happening in 21st Century Britain."

"As this report shows, we need to see urgent action across the board. The Government has proposed the introduction of mental health support teams and a new four week waiting target for CAMHS -  but these will only be rolled out to a quarter of the country by 2022/23. And, with just one in four children with mental health problems currently receiving support from CAMHS, there needs to be additional, long-term funding to make sure that all young people who need help can get it.”

The CQC report comes at a time when changes are already being discussed in Government. Last December, the Government laid out new plans for CAMHS in a green paper.

In addition to these changes, the CQC recommend that Ofsted asses how schools support children and young people’s mental health as part of their inspections. Sarah Brennan says:

We welcome the report’s recommendation that the Ofsted framework is revised so it has a greater focus on mental health. At the moment, the education system is fundamentally unbalanced, with a far greater focus on exam results than on the wellbeing of students. While teachers should never be expected to do the job of mental health professionals, it is crucial that schools have the resources and recognition to take a whole-school approach to promoting wellbeing.

On the launch of the report, the CQC are encouraging people to use the #WeAreListening hashtag to pledge their support for children and young people with mental health problems. They have also made an animation showing what they found when they looked at the system of services that support children and young people’s mental health. An easy-read version of the report, aimed at children and young people, is also available on their website.

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