Children at risk with lack of funding
Funding shortfalls for children's mental health services are putting lives at risk, parents say, as new figures reveal the scale of concern over NHS treatment.
Two thirds of parents who accessed child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) on the NHS felt let down by the treatment of their child, a survey of more than 1,000 parents found.
Almost a fifth of parents who sought treatment were refused it altogether.
Sky News obtained the new figures from a survey created by one parent who was told to wait a week for NHS treatment despite the fact that her nine-year-old child attempted suicide.
Crisis in child mental health care
Sam Lethbridge said the system for children is 'broken'
Sam Lethbridge said her daughter was ultimately admitted as an inpatient for seven months, but was then denied follow-on treatment by CAMHS upon release.
She said: "I would describe CAMHS as broken, falling apart. I think CAMHS are putting children's lives at risk.
"They're not seeing the children, they're not providing early intervention.
"You hear of families who are being told that their children aren't severe enough to be seen.
"Then you've got families like mine, my daughter is threatening to kill herself and is clinically diagnosed with depression, and they still won't see us.
"It's appalling. If you don't treat these children at an early age it's just going to spiral.
"And it makes no sense, because if you can prevent a child becoming an adolescent or an adult with mental health issues then surely you should do it."
There has been mounting concern among mental health professionals that a shortage of funding has led to CAMHS raising the thresholds for treatment.
A report last month found examples of young people being turned away from treatment for anorexia where a child's weight was not considered low enough, suicidal thoughts, and hearing voices that did not "command particular behaviours".
One young person who was treated by CAMHS said the situation was drastic.
Nikki Mattocks, now aged 19, said: "When I was 14, I experienced a traumatic event and I started to go on a downward spiral.
"I started to self-harm and hear voices and it was pretty obvious to me and everyone else that nothing was right.
"CAMHS saw me once and they just said it's not that serious, it's fine, just go and ring this number if you feel worse," she said.
Miss Mattocks was ultimately diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, recurring depression, and social anxiety.
She said: "I was still getting worse. It just got to the point where they had to admit me to an inpatient unit, because I was just really unwell.
"I've had friends that didn't get help because they weren't taken seriously - it wasn't "bad enough" and they killed themselves. And that's just not right.
"If you had a physical problem you could go to your doctor and they would recommend treatment and it would be dealt with a lot quicker.
"And that inequality there is disgusting."
The Government has pledged significant additional funding to improve mental health services for young people.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We are investing an additional £1.4bn in an ambitious five-year programme to transform young people's mental health services.
"This includes £150m to develop community eating disorder services for children and young people and £1.25bn for improving children and young people's mental health services overall.
"This is the biggest transformation the sector has ever seen."
But a former health minister who helped negotiate the extra funding said it was not being spent exclusively on CAMHS.
"My great frustration is that funding is not going to where it is intended, and is being used in many areas to prop up acute hospitals," said Norman Lamb.
"And the problem is that the NHS as a whole is under acute financial pressure.
"And in that situation mental health always loses out, and we are seeing that again now.
"About 75% of young people with mental health problems get no help at all. It's scandalous.
"The longer this goes on, the more damage we will do to our country."
source Sky News