Children waiting two years for mental health support

Posted: 10th March 2023

Source: BBC News

Some children and teenagers have been waiting up to two years for mental health support, a council investigation has found.

A cross-party group of West Northamptonshire councillors found the system to help school pupils was “worse than expected”.

The group made several recommendations including providing more money to support services.

Its chairwoman, Conservative Rosie Herring, said its investigation found services were “not as we would wish to support our young people”.

The group began its investigation after a study found the proportion of 15 to 19-year-olds being hospitalised from self-harm was much higher in Northamptonshire than the English average, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

In 2019-20, 1,075 per 100,000 of Northamptonshire teenagers were hospitalised, compared with 665 per 100,000 across England.

One head teacher told the group a mental health helpline “might as well not exist” as advisors direct people to an online form.

They also said too much expectation was placed on West Northamptonshire schools and their staff.

Labour group leader Wendy Randall said the report’s findings suggested some services were failing “from beginning to end”.

As well as providing more money for services, the group also recommended setting up a new youth strategy and letting organisations use empty council buildings to provide help.

All of the group’s recommendations, external were accepted by West Northamptonshire Council’s cabinet, which will provide a formal response by early May.

Last month, a senior manager for Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT), one of the providers of youth mental health services, conceded some waits for care were “too long”.

Sharon Robson, NHFT’s assistant director for children’s services, said some children were waiting for more than a year for specialist treatment.

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