Concerns remain over proposed mental health reforms

Mental health charity YoungMinds has hit out at the government
for failing to rule out unequivocally the practice of treating
under-18s with mental health problems on adult wards.

In March, the parliamentary committee that scrutinised the draft
mental health bill recommended that young people should not be
treated on adult wards “if at all possible”.

However, in its response published this week, the government said
that while it “should not usually” happen, treating
young people on adult wards may be unavoidable in some
circumstances. On these occasions, expert advice must be

But Barbara Hertz, chair of YoungMinds, insisted: “It is one
of those things which should be non-negotiable. It is completely
inappropriate, and can be really frightening for adolescents to
find themselves on adult wards.

“Whether there are problems over resources, or precedents in
other parts of the health service, this is totally

Hertz said she was also concerned about the difference in opinion
between the committee and the government on parental consent in
relation to young people.

The committee said under-18s should be treated in the same way as
under-16s, while the government said they should be treated as
adults in deciding on their treatment.

“This is a very tricky area, and each case is
different,” Hertz said. “I would want to make sure that
young people’s wishes were respected, but in some cases it
might not be possible.

“You can still keep the voice of the child, but there is a
need for flexibility depending on how ill the child is.”

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