The NSPCC recently found that in the last two years over 100,000 children referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) were rejected for treatment. That's 150 children a day. Mental health issues are hitting the headlines more frequently than ever before, with children and young people being particularly vulnerable. Half of all mental health problems have been established by the age of 14, rising to 75% by age 24. While the national government has started implementing its Five-Year Forward View for Mental Health using £1.4 billion, with particular priority for children and young people, reports are not yet showing positive results.
Although the latest government budget of November 2017 promised £2.8bn of extra funding for the NHS, it did not give any particular mention of mental health services. However, a long-anticipated green paper was published in December 2017 on transforming mental health services for children and young people. There were several proposals in the green paper. This includes designating a senior mental health lead in schools, setting up a four-week waiting time for NHS CAMHS services, new mental health support teams in schools and all compulsory mental health awareness training. Currently, the average waiting time for children and adolescents is 11 weeks, but it can be up to 18 months, as reported by the Care Quality Commission.
As the policy and media response to this issue continuously grows, Open Forum Events invites you to Children and Young People's Mental Health: Providing Effective Support to analyse, discuss and learn about the latest developments and move the conversation forward.
Mental health in general is being discussed more amongst policymakers, public figures and celebrities alike. This is helping to raise awareness and reduce stigma, but it is too early to say if it is translating into effective action. There are numerous charities and organisations dedicated to improving mental health conditions but most of these do not have the funds that allow for the kind of significant change that the government could enable. These organisations provide research and policy recommendations to authorities to guide the government towards the best course of action.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) published a report which included the perspectives of 80 children in care and over 100 people in roles which entail safeguarding children like social workers, nurses, foster carers and both birth and adoptive parents. The report, led by the SCIE's Expert Working Group as created by Department for Education, found that services needed to be much more accessible, flexible and child-centered. It also stated that "mental health is a continuum and cannot be seen as a one-off diagnosis," which highlights the need for ongoing and regular treatment. The need for children and adolescents' perspective to be heard is further being recognized by the Scottish government putting £95,000 into a new youth commission to lead an in-depth study into children and young people's mental health.
There is also pressure on schools to take a more active role in mental health care for children and young people. The Department of Health published a 'Supporting mental health in schools and colleges' report in August 2017. The Education Policy Institute have also published several reports on children and young people's mental health. Findings include long waiting times for treatment, children and adolescents being treated on adult wards, negative effects of social media use and policymakers being out of date with technology.
Mental health services across the board are under increasing demands to provide for an ever-growing number of people. It is therefore essential that policymakers and implementers approach this issue correctly. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to poverty, trauma and unhealthy social media use, which all inevitably effect their wellbeing and mental state.
While children and young people await these policies to come into action, they face delayed and potentially inadequate treatment. In October 2016, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt referred to CAMHS as 'possibly the biggest single area of weakness in NHS provision.' It is therefore essential that the necessary improvements are made in order to provide for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
In December 2017, a long-awaited green paper was published to transform services for children and young people's mental health. The consultation is due to close in March 2018. This session will look at the areas covered by the green paper and the government's aims for the next stages.
School-age children spend 40% of their waking hours in school, and when not in school they are often under pressure to do schoolwork whilst at home. Schools play a central role in shaping their life experience and should therefore have measures in place to support pupils with mental health needs.
With numerous reports indicating children and adolescents are not receiving adequate care for their mental health, the state of healthcare and treatment must be scrutinised to make improvements and amends.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently found that 400,000 more youngsters and 300,000 more elderly people now live in poverty than in 2012/13. A different JRF report in early 2017 found that approximately 30% of children in Britain are now classified as poor, with two-thirds of these from families with at least one working parent. The issue of precarious work is becoming more apparent. Homeless charity Shelter has stated that there are currently over 70,000 children living in temporary accommodation. These issues of poverty and homelessness undoubtedly effect children and adolescents' mental health and wellbeing.
Children today have never known a world without the Internet. They are accustomed to living much of their lives online. The online world for young people is full of unrealistic expectations and peer validation. As a result, this can affect their mental wellbeing on a very profound level. More awareness needs to be raised and action to be taken in order to for young people to understand the effects in can have on their health and how to use and manage it sensibly.
Trauma is difficult for any person to experience. For children and young people, it can be even more damaging to their young minds. Research and discussion is needed on how best to approach their unique needs in relation to trauma.
Research shows that diagnosing children under the age of seven with a mental health condition is particularly difficult when compared to older children and teenagers. As this age group is sometimes overlooked, it is important to highlight the way diagnosis and treatment can differ for them.
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