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Influential Commons committee criticises NHS mental health provision for young people

11 January 2019

Most young people with a mental health condition do not get the treatment they need, says a report published today by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

Mental health services for children and young people finds that in 2017-18 only three in ten children and young people with a mental health condition received NHS-funded treatment and many more faced unacceptably long waits for treatment.

The report says that the government has no plan for how it will fulfil its commitment to support children’s and young people’s mental health, and that the recurring problems with the recruitment and retention of NHS staff have not been tackled.

Sarb Bajwa, chief executive of the British Psychological Society, said:

“Once again, children and young people’s mental health hits the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The chronic underfunding of NHS services for children and the lack of services means children are being poorly served by the NHS.

“Cuts to local authorities that provide prevention services have also undermined the government’s strategy to improve provision. Those cuts have led to a reduction in the number of school nurses and educational psychologists who provide support to children.

“It is shameful that in far too many cases children, their families and carers have nowhere to go for support when prevention and early intervention are key to ensuring that mental health issues do not develop into full-blown mental health conditions. 

“There is a wide range of psychological approaches to improve wellbeing, including cognitive behavioural therapy, positive psychology, parenting programmes and interpersonal therapy. However, there must be a workforce to deliver these interventions. The government and the NHS have yet to grasp this nettle.”

This report comes in the same week that a BPS survey of educational psychologists showed a majority don't believe there is fair access to educational psychology services for all children and young people in their local service.

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