There is currently a “once in a generation opportunity” to transform mental health services for children.
That was the message from the Department of Health’s top social care official at the National Children and Adult Services Conference this week.
Jon Rouse, director general for social care, local government and care partnerships, said that £1.25bn of government investment in mental health services over the next five years, as well as £150m earmarked for eating disorder services, would offer an opportunity to “transform services”.
“We have let down our children and young people for too long, our services are too often isolated, forbidding and out of date and it is time for fundamental change and transformation,” Rouse said.
He said part of that £1.25bn investment, announced during the coalition government’s term, would be routed into education and training to “increase the number of specialist practitioners and also their confidence, and range of capability”.
Mental health passport
Rouse spoke on the same day NHS England launched a new mental health passport. The passport includes a brief of clinical information and key personal preferences that children and young people using mental health services can show practitioners, and means they avoid repeating their histories.
The Future In Mind report, published earlier this year, outlined the key areas of mental health provision for young people that the government aims to improve.
“We have commissioned a prevalence survey,” Rouse said. “The last government survey is 10 years old now… a comprehensive prevalence survey that will be available by 2017/18 and provide us with really up to date and comprehensive information.”
Audience members were concerned that change hadn’t already happened in mental health services for young people, and Rouse said the process was still “in gestation”.
“The funding hasn’t started to fully flow yet, extra capacity needs to be trained, so there is a lot of work to do so it will probably take 12 to 18 months before we start to see the benefits flowing through,” he said.