Around 70% of mental health nurses think that NHS services are not capable of treating the growing number of people referred to them, a study by the Guardian on behalf of the Royal College fo Nursing (RCN) has found.
The survey found that children’s services are particularly stretched. Half of all mental health nurses working with young people say Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are inadequate. A further 20% thought they are extremely inadequate. Just 13% believe they are good or very good, while the rest say they are adequate.
‘Without treatment, problems are very likely to escalate and children are more likely to self-harm or become suicidal, to be violent and aggressive, or to drop out of school, which can ruin their prospects for the future,’ said Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds. ‘Delays can also have a disastrous effect on families, with parents forced to leave their jobs to look after their children.’
Asked to list what they saw as the main problems with the services, 73% of those surveyed said there were too few nurses to cope with the rising number of patients. Additionally 72% said delays in patients getting appointments, 69% pointed to young people being sent ‘out of the area’ to get inpatient care, because of bed shortages. A further 59% said that the staff are unable to give patients as many appointments or as much care as they need.
Fiona Smith, RCN professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, said: ‘We are failing young people with mental health problems by not providing services and interventions in a timely manner. It’s foolish of the NHS and the government not to really focus on meeting these young people’s needs, because we know that with [the] three out of four adults with mental health problems, their symptoms began in childhood.’