Child Mental Health Services 'Turning Away Vulnerable Young Adults'

'A huge self-esteem blow'.

28/04/2016 10:52 | Updated 28 April 2016
Arvydas Kniuk?ta via Getty Images
Vulnerable children should instead be given priority for mental health support, a committee of MPs says

Vulnerable young people in care are being turned away from mental health services in a situation described as "disgusting" by experts.

An inquiry by the Commons Education Committee found a "significant number" of mental health services are turning away vulnerable young people, including foster children, because they move too often.

In a report, the committee said these children should instead be given priority for mental health support.

a "significant number" of mental health services are turning away vulnerable young people

In evidence, experts said the situation was "disgusting and a huge self-esteem blow" to children and young adults, the Press Association reported.

The committee also heard evidence from those directly affected, including a 16-year old girl in foster care said she had been unable to access services for two-and-a-half years, during which time she moved 13 times.

The committee heard that service providers are often unwilling to begin treatment if a child moves placement, even when this is within the same local authority.

..inflexibility is failing looked-after children

The committee's report said: "The inflexibility of [mental health services] is failing looked-after children in too many areas and leaving vulnerable young people without support."

Luciana Berger MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, said: "This Tory Government promised to prioritise young people's mental health but this damning report shows that too many vulnerable children are being turned away from the help they need.

"The Government is letting children with mental health problems down.

"To avoid this appalling human cost and to make our mental health services sustainable into the future, the Tory Government must do more to prevent young people from needing to turn to them in the first place."

Berger highlighted early intervention through high quality health education as a potential solution.

Izzi Seccombe, the Local Government Association's community wellbeing spokeswoman, said "early intervention is key," and that no child should have to wait such a long time for treatment.

"Clearly more investment is needed if we are to deliver the mental health support our children and young people need and deserve," she added.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Children in care have often lived through traumatic experiences and it is vital they receive the support they need.

"That's why we are putting a record £1.4 billion into children and young people's mental health, and investing in better links between these services and schools.

"This is backed up by £700 million in reforming the social work profession, so staff are supported to make the right decisions for those in their care."

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