Barnardo’s has responded to the governments reaction to a consultation on a Green Paper, saying it is “disappointed” in the failure to address major holes in mental health services for children.
The leading UK children’s charity, which provides vital mental health services for vulnerable children and young people in the community, has warned the government is still “sleep-walking” into the deepening crisis in children’s mental health.
It still remains supportive of the government’s plans to improve mental health services; however, it thinks that it is reaching only 25% of the country over the next four years is too little, too late.
Failing to address concerns on its ambition to transform mental health services
The announcement of a new NHS mental health workforce dedicated to supporting children in schools and colleges has been welcomed by Barnardo’s, however, it says the Government’s response to the children’s mental health Green paper consultation published today (July 25), has failed to significantly address concerns on its ambition to transform.
The response focuses on so-called ‘trailblazer’ sites, made up of NHS and key local stakeholders, such as schools, local authorities and third sector organisations, to pilot and roll-out Mental Health Support Teams.
Yet these will still not reach the vast majority. According to a conservative estimate these changes won’t help 75% of England until 2022.
Barnardo’s also expressed concern that the announcement does not mention the importance of early intervention in primary schools, regarded by the charity as crucial to transforming and stemming a deepening mental health crisis.
What concerns to young people have about the service on offer?
Young people supported by Barnardo’s also took part in the Green Paper consultation, with their major concern being waiting time targets.
The charity want the initial assessment with a mental health specialist to take place within days of a child reporting an issue. But the Government has proposed a maximum four-week waiting time – and only within pilot areas, meaning large parts of the country will be behind.
This is better than the current average maximum waiting time in Child and Adolescent Mental Health of six months for a first appointment and nearly 10 months until the start of treatment.
The risk for future generations
Barnardo’s is calling on the Government to use some of the £20.5 billion extra funding promised to the NHS in England by 2023/24 to help stop the children’s mental health crisis and bring waiting times down across the country.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan commented: “Theresa May has described mental illness as a burning injustice that required a new approach from Government.
“However, actions speak louder than words. The Government’s response to the Green Paper consultation does not show enough action on how as a society we are going to stop sleepwalking into a children’s mental health crisis.
“The response has let down the children who gave their views about the problems with the Green Paper and if the Government does not rethink its approach, it runs the risk of letting down future generations too.”