The Progress Party reply
We do not believe current concerns around childrens’ mental health provision is solely down to funding as last years Government Plan increased funding in this area to support the Childrens and Young Peoples Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy.
The problem we believe remains with the poor implementation of the strategy and we would put more energy and focus on delivering the priorities within the strategy.
The strategy has several key deliverables but the previous Alliance led government have failed miserably in not ensuring children know where to get support, ensuring that every young person who asked for support gets it and that every child or young person is listened to.
We are all acutely aware that there has been more demand to Childrens’ emotional and mental health support and to ensure a small problem such as stress or anxiety doesn’t grow quickly into a more severe mental health problem, early intervention is vital.
There are a large number of risk factors. that are driving up the current unacceptable waiting time of 6 to 8 weeks for an assessment such as divorce, poverty, peer pressure, drink/drugs, neglect and poor housing conditions .
Each can put pressure on children and need different solutions but children need early access to support if they feel they are being listened to and taken seriously. Around 76% of children still feel uncomfortable talking to someone about their problems and also feel stigmatised by their their mental health issue.
The strategy must be delivered now if a crisis is to be diverted.
Adequate confidential counselling needs to be available in schools
Better information needs to be provided to all children to show what support is available and where.
There needs to be a seven day a week counselling service that includes a drop in centre similar to the Listening Lounge provided for adults and a clear directory of services.
The Childrens’ mental health service ( CAMHS) needs to focus efforts on recruiting the necessary staff to reduce waiting times and provide the necessary specialist support and oversight of improvement needs to be through a reporting framework overseen by a board ( as adult mental health has ) that includes children who have lived experience of mental health disorders .
To provide a service that caters for young people we need to listen to what young people need and co produce services with them. Youth Clubs , the Youth Enquiry Service ( YESS), schools, parents and government all have to play their part to improve services.
This is not solely about money it’s about focusing on putting children first and delivery.
TPP – 10 June 2022
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