York: Child mental health services failing to meet needs, says report

York: Child mental health services failing to meet needs, says report

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Healthwatch York says there is a “heavy reliance on self-advocacy or parental advocacy” to get children the help they need

Children accessing mental health services in York face delays, lost paperwork and inconvenient appointments, according to a report.

Healthwatch York said services were failing to “meet the needs” of parents and children.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust provides children’s and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the city.

It said services countrywide had been “under pressure” due to the pandemic.

According to figures in the Healthwatch report, there were 1,925 children in contact with CAMHS by the end of May 2020, and that figure rose to 2,765 by June 2022.

The report said the system needs better administrative processes, and improved training for teachers and those involved in the initial referral of a child to CAMHS.

It also stated there was a “heavy reliance on self-advocacy or parental advocacy” to ensure a child accessed the care they needed.

“The current process fails to meet the needs of parents and children; for example appointments being given during school drop-off and pick-up times,” it said.

The report included comments from parents about accessing services, with one telling the authors their paperwork had been lost which the parent warned was a “serious breach of data regulations”.

‘Felt abandoned’

Chris Klays, from mental health charity York Mind, who worked on the report with Healthwatch York, said there was a major issue with early intervention and prevention.

“The lack of youth services means a lot of young people are getting referred to statutory services such as CAMHS and aren’t getting the support when they need it,” he said.

One 16-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous, was referred to CAMHS having struggled with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts since the age of 13.

She told IPGCE Radio York how she felt abandoned by the service after waiting for an appointment.

“I went in for my first in-person session and about 20 minutes in she said ‘we are going to discharge you because we think you can deal with how you are feeling’.”

She said she understood that while waiting for her appointment she had been forced to deal with things herself, but still felt “a little bit abandoned”.

“It felt like they were trying to free up a spot so somebody else could have a place,” she added.

Melanie Woodcock, general manager of North Yorkshire, York and Selby CAMHS and learning disabilities services at Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Children’s mental health services across the country have been under a lot of pressure because of the pandemic and there are times we cannot see people as soon as we would like.”

She said they were working with partners to provide a range of services to “support the children and young people who need our help”.

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