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Young people are being failed by adult mental health services

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Approximately 25,000 young people transition from child services each year

Vulnerable young people are being put in danger during the transition between child and adult mental health services according to a new inquiry.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) inquiry has claimed that many young people have experienced difficulties during transition between child and adult mental health services, meaning many slip through the cracks when they most need help.

The cut-off point for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is at 18 years old where they must then go into adult mental health services (AMHS).

‘It is estimated that more than 25,000 young people transition from CAMHS each year. The TRACK study reported that only 4 per cent of young people received an “ideal” transition,’ stated
the report, which also found that young people would benefit from flexibility between services and planning their own care with CAMHS.

‘The way mental health services are configured does not always support optimal working through transition for young people,’ the report said.

However, AMHS have different thresholds for providing support and if delays occur in transition, young people can lose access to care.

The investigation was instigated in response to the suicide of an 18-year-old shortly after transitioning. His child mental health service felt pressured to pass him on to adult care due to the age limit.

The young man met with his new AMHS coordinator three weeks after turning 18, and only two days later he died by suicide.

HSIB has made several recommendations, including: identifying the needs of young adults whose requirements don’t meet the criteria for AMHS; ensuring guidance is available during transition; move away from age-based transition criteria and towards a flexible alternative; working with commissioners and providers of mental health services to ensure care is in line with best practice; and extending the Care Quality Commission’s remit of investigations so that the transition is also examined.

In May, a report from two select committees declared that the current strategy to improve CAMHS is inadequate, stating that the most vulnerable groups will be left behind when not receiving services into adulthood.

Mental health charity Young Minds has found that more than a third of 16–25-year-olds in the UK have self-harmed, proving that the transitional demographic is in great need of adequate care.

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