Five priorities for improving children’s mental health.

The Guardian reports that the mental wealth of the nation is critical to our future – young people’s mental wellbeing should be paramount.

The mental health of the nation is built on foundations laid in the early years of our lives. Yet our mental health system is designed and funded to pay the price of our failure to act on the evidence and invest in the right family support in those childhood years.

We go through many life changes and transitions in our childhood and teenage years. It’s why the age of 18 is the wrong time for child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) to “hand over” to adult services. 

Little more than 6p in every pound the NHS spends on mental health is spent on children and young people. Yet as the health and education select committees acknowledge in their report on the role of schools in mental health, “50% of adult mental illness starts before age 15 and 75% has started before age 18”.

Equipping teachers with knowledge of mental health and making this part of their professional development is a step in the right direction. But a good grounding in child development should be at the heart of teacher training.

First, it’s time to make Camhs services up to age 25 the norm.

Second, mental health and wellbeing should be integral to the life and work of schools, not a bolt on.

Third, a proactive approach to identifying and meeting need could do much to prevent mental distress entrenching into lifelong mental illness, offering timely support to parents to strengthen parenting and reduce parental conflict.

Fourth, embedding mental health expertise in every school as part of a richer Camhs offer ensures there is no wrong door for young people when it comes to getting the right help at the right time.

Fifth, we need to deliver Camhs services that focus on outcomes; make a reality of shared decision-making; and deliver evidence-based interventions and support.

The mental wealth of the nation is critical to our future, the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and parents should be a priority. 

Read the full article Five priorities for improving children’s mental health. 

Do you agree that that the age limit of child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) should be increased to 25? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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