A shameful scandal

It seems that children in secure accommodation can’t win. Our
survey of 30 secure children’s homes this week shows a high
incidence of mental health problems among residents and little hope
of a cure. Every one of these homes said they had young people with
mental health problems, yet staff are often ill-equipped to cope
and specialist services have too few resources to respond.

The shocking fact is that young people with mental health problems
may be kept in secure accommodation because there is nowhere better
for them to go. If they were better provided with child and
adolescent mental health services, they would never have ended up
in a secure unit in the first place.

These young people’s mental health problems are wide-ranging. Every
secure unit should have staff qualified to make an initial response
and access specialist services. More than four-fifths of the units
in our survey said they had residents who were in need of
in-patient treatment.

Our survey shows just why CAMHS should go straight to the top of
the priority list, both for politicians and for health and social
care agencies. It is time to end the scandal where children are
penalised for problems which are not of their own making.

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