Young people at risk of mental health need several suicide attempts before they can get a bed in a hospital ward in England, reports reveal.
Currently, admission standards for beds in pediatric and adolescent mental health wards are so stringent that even the most vulnerable children under the age of 18, who pose a clear risk to themselves, cannot get beds.
Caused by a shortage of mental health beds in the NHS, the practice puts young people at greater risk of harm and leaves parents confused, exhausted and worried, and police and emergency services may have to intervene.
The high threshold for admission to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs) unit is the highest among NHS mental health services under 18 in the UK based on interviews with patients, their parents and the professional staff caring for them. detailed in a report on health care.
The report states that young people must “have had multiple suicide attempts to receive hospital assistance.” It was commissioned by Look Ahead Care, a charity that provides mental health services in 40 areas of the UK, and will begin in the Senate on Wednesday.
“For many mental health professionals, this threshold level was highly frustrating,” the report said. They reported feeling angry and abandoned.”
A parent of one child cited in the report said: At the time, it felt like Camhs was only interested if he tried it.
One Camus nurse quoted said: What’s it like to take her to her house? ”It was very difficult for them because her parents were coming to us crying for help.
The report, funded by the Wates Family Enterprise Trust, also highlights:
Young people under the age of 18 seek help from A&E for serious mental health issues. This is because mental health crisis response services are inadequate. Even though there is no emergency department set up to deal with this.
Private operators now provide most mental health inpatient care for children and young people judged to be sick enough to need a bed, but these cost up to £4,200 a week, lower than the NHS. Much more expensive.
Some adolescents under the age of 18 who overdose or self-harm are ultimately cared for in the pediatric ward of an acute care hospital, and then wait to undergo a mental health evaluation before being transferred to the Camhs unit. You end up waiting “days or weeks” for a bed. .
Olly Parker, director of external affairs at the charity Young Minds, said: From our own research, we know that thousands of people have attempted suicide because they waited too long for mental health support or treatment.
“People who end up at the A&E are often there because they don’t know where else to turn. Not the best place to get help.”
Last year, a survey of 13,887 young people found that more than one in four had attempted suicide because they had to wait for mental health help.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:
“This report’s harrowing interviews reveal how desperate young people and their families are for treatment, and often have nowhere to turn until they have reached a point of crisis. bottom.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “It is not true that private providers are providing most mental health care for young people in hospital. In fact, the latest data show that in the year to October 2022 Over 701,000 children and young people were supported by NHS mental health services.
“The NHS is expanding school mental health teams to cover 2.4 million students and deploying a 24/7 crisis line to support those at risk without the need to go to hospital. possible.”