New steps are set to be taken to make sure children and young people don’t have as far to travel for mental health services, as announced by NHS England.
An additional 150-180 beds across the country will be used to help those who are most unwell, be dependent on need and placed in under-served parts of the country. It is part of an effort to stop children and young people reaching crisis point by diagnosing and treating them at the earliest opportunity.
The number of children receiving treatment has increased by 20,000 over the last three years, leading to this initiative being introduced under the Five Year Forward Plan, which is reforming NHS England’s approach to health care up to 2020.
Chief executive of mental health charity Mind Paul Farmer said: ‘Mental health services have been chronically underfunded for years and still get a raw deal when it comes to funding, yet demand is increasing. That’s why it’s so important that we urgently invest in quality mental health services.
‘We welcome the additional funding being made available for extra beds for young people in crisis. When you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, you’re likely to feel scared, vulnerable and alone, so your support network of family and friends are instrumental to recovery. Being far from home can negatively impact on an individual’s mental health and can increase the risk of someone taking their own lives.’
A programme of work will be introduced to prepare for an additional 35,000 children in need of treatment in the next year, with an extra 49,000 in two years. There will also be 67 new eating disorder service set up in communities across England, aiming to treat at least 3,350 children per year.
It is hoped the introduction of the new beds for children and young people will reduce the need to travel long distances for specialist inpatient care, rebalancing beds from parts of the country where the local CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) can reduce inpatient use.
National director for mental health at NHS England Claire Murdoch said: ‘We are committed to ending the need for children and young people travelling long distances for the right care. By increasing the availability of services in the community and ensuring the right beds are in the right place, we aim to ensure that those who need it will be able to receive the best care and treatment at home or as close to home as possible.
‘I believe we now have the biggest programme for talking therapies in the world, with more people receiving treatment than ever before. Over the last year we have made some huge strides forward to ensure mental and physical health are on an equal footing, but there is much more work to do and we will continue to drive further improvements to ensure the right care is available across the country at the right time.’