Mental health organisations last week demonstrated their support
for Community Care‘s campaign for better mental health
services for children and young people.
Ruth Lesirge, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation,
told the launch of the Changing Minds campaign that it identified
“a clear imperative for action”. In most cases young people had no
choice in how they are helped, and what they were offered was often
unsuitable, she said.
“The most effective way of meeting the mental health needs of
young people is for all of us to listen to what young people have
to say,” she said.
This point was brought home by Valerie Chapman, whose
19-year-old son has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She spoke of
her frustration with the system.
“The question I’m still asking is why didn’t people believe me.
Between [the ages of] 10 and 17, I have lost count of how many
psychologists and psychiatrists my son saw. But nobody did
Chapman added that trying to get more help for her son had cost
her and her husband a quarter of their income over the past four
Sue Bailey, chairperson of the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s
faculty of child and adolescent psychiatry, stressed that mental
health was “everybody’s business” and that further work was needed
to address the stigma of mental illness. “To have the resources,
there has to be a public will that this is a priority,” she
She added that there needed to be a system that could detect a
child’s vulnerability to mental illness.
Community Care‘s editor Polly Neate described the
long-term consequence of untreated mental health problems in
children as “frightening” and called on organisations to join in
the call for action.
“There is evidence that we are pushing at a door that is not
locked,” Neate said. “This campaign is intended to put a foot
firmly in that door and ensure that the mental well-being of
children and young people gains its rightful place in strategy,
funding, service development, guidance, and practice.”
Director of Young Minds Peter Wilson described the campaign as
“another major surge forward” that would help to raise awareness of
children’s mental health. He said that young people wanted improved
access, better information and respect. “Everyone in this business
needs to be better trained,” he added.