Our children deserve better

We know from the NSPCC that 1 in 5 secondary school children in the UK have been severely abused or neglected during childhood.

As pointed out by Claire Allen in The Guardian, the public are very rightly outraged by this, but don't seem to be so bothered about cuts to mental health services, which these people are likely to need. What is it that stops people from being outraged by the fact that a child or young person, who may be extremely distressed, harming themselves and whose lives may even be at risk, can't access mental health services when they need it?

Despite legislation to ensure there is parity for physical and mental health within the NHS, in reality there is still a very long way to go. All mental health services are facing cuts, but child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) seem to be particularly vulnerable. They are often small and historically underfunded, so cuts to these services have a greater impact. Anecdotally we have heard some shocking cases where CAMHS services are being so radically pruned back that they don't stand a chance of helping all of the very vulnerable children and young people in their area who need help and support.

The evidence points to the importance of early intervention services and tackling small problems before they become chronic and enduring ones that can continue into adulthood. As well as the moral case for early intervention, there is a lot of evidence to show that early intervention can save money. So, what is the sense of cutting these services? The problem is that CAMHS is an easy target.

Mental health services are a car crash. There seems to be no accountability for what is happening to these services and to the very ill and distressed people who can't access help when they so desperately need it. There would quite rightly be outrage if someone with cancer, or a broken leg wasn't given appropriate treatment. So why is it ok for children and young people who have mental health problems to be denied the help they need?

Please turn your concerns into action and make your local council and councillors, MP, local Health and Wellbeing Board, Clinical Commissioning Group, and local healthwatch aware of the impact of the worrying cuts in funding to CAMHS. Early intervention services aren't necessarily expensive and a modest investment in parenting programmes, or promoting mental health and wellbeing in schools have been shown to produce positive outcomes for children and young people.

Find out more about the Children and Young People's Mental Health Coalition.