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Young people’s mental health
The Health Select Committee’s recently published report into mental health services for children and young people has received a lot of publicity. Most of the publicity has focussed on the lack of availability of mental health services for young people, and unless young people were presenting with the most risky of disorders they were being turned away. I’ve looked at the report to see what else is in there. You can read the whole report here.
Age appropriate services
One of the main issues in the report is the lack of available beds for young people. This is not a new problem, and changes to the Mental Health Act in 2007 tried to ensure beds for young people in psychiatric hospitals were ’age-appropriate’ because of the risks of young people finding themselves on adult wards. The committee themselves expressed concern about lack of education provision for young people whilst in hospital.
Using police cells
The committee highlighted the issue of police powers to remove mentally disordered people from a public place, to a place of safety for assessment. I’ve written about this issue before. If the police find that their local hospital is unable to offer that place of safety, then the police station becomes the only alternative. The Committee is asking the Department of Health how they are going to eradicate this. The reality is that means having more nurses available to manage hospital places of safety.
Prevention and education
As well as looking at provision of services now, the Committee looked at prevention in the field of mental health. In particular they want to see if the teacher training curriculum could include how teachers can identify and work with mental health problems. I think it could be argued that this is a topic that should be built into training for public and customer service providers more generally.
The other issue that the committee expressed concern about was the danger of online bullying and the dangers of young people being exposed to distressing content on the internet. This perhaps hints at one of the other issues the Committee looked at – the rise in referrals to young people’s mental health services. Why should children’s mental health be worse that it was twenty or thirty years ago, is that what we are better at identifying problems? Or is there something about how young people’s lives are exposed in social media that carries risks of mental health problems itself? Perhaps that’s another discussion for a blog on another day.