Mental Health Services Under-Resourced ? Yes ! Suicide Prevention Minister And Related Reports Covering The Meltdown

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Surge in children seeking mental health support from cash-strapped councils, figures show.

Figures show 54 per cent rise in the number of youngsters identified by councils as having mental health problems.

Soaring numbers of children seeking help for mental health issues have been blamed on savage cuts to local authority budgets.

Politicians and council leaders are calling on the government to inject funding into children’s services as an analysis of figures reveals the number of youngsters identified by councils as having mental health problems has surged by 54 per cent in four years.

The figure rose from 133,600 in 2014-15 to 205,720 in 2017-18, with more than 560 cases recorded every day last year on average.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which carried out the analysis, said children’s centres and family support services – “vital” for looking after children before problems become more serious – had lost 60p out of every £1 they had from central government over the past decade.

Some of these services have subsequently been stripped back or ended altogether, with about 1,000 Sure Start centres – which provide early years health and education services – having been forced to close down since 2010.

The LGA said there were currently 75,420 children in the care of councils and that there has been an 84 per cent increase of youngsters on child protection plans over the past decade, while nine in 10 councils are now forced to overspend their children’s social care budgets.

Public health services, which also support a child’s early development, have meanwhile seen cuts of £700m to their budgets over five years.

Barbara Keeley MP, shadow minister for mental health and social care, said the cuts to local council budgets had led to the loss of family support services. She described a “crisis in children’s mental health”, adding: “Without vital early intervention services, young people are needlessly ending up in crises.”

She said that, as well as investing more in mental health services for children and young people, the government must fund local councils “properly” to ensure they can provide family support services without which mental health problems escalate and become more serious.

Councillor Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “It is clear we are facing a children’s mental health crisis, and councils are struggling to provide the support young people so desperately need.”

She said funding pressures in children’s services and public health meant many councils were being forced to cut some of the “vital” early intervention services which can support children with low-level mental health issues and help them to avoid more serious problems in later life.

“It is absolutely vital that the government adequately funds these services in this year’s spending review, so we can tackle this urgent crisis and make sure children get the help they need. It is the least they deserve and the consequences of not tackling this crisis now can be devastating for young people and their families,” Ms Bramble added.

It comes after the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) warned that massive cuts to Sure Start centres – shown to prevent thousands of hospital admissions a year and save the NHS millions – in poorer areas had heaped pressure on children’s mental health services and were fuelling the UK’s child mental health crisis.

Responding to the new figures, Dr Jon Goldin, vice-chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the RCP, said: “Both child and adolescent mental health services and social services are under increasing pressure, with inadequate resources to meet the need.

“Investing in early intervention and prevention is key and children’s centres and family support services can help prevent problems further down the line. Sadly, the fact that so many such centres have had to close down due to inadequate funding, is contributing to increased pressures in the system and more children are suffering as a result.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our children’s mental health is a priority for this government which is why we are transforming services through the NHS Long Term Plan – backed by an extra £2.3bn a year – so that 345,000 more children and young people have access to specialist mental health care by 2023-24.

“Early intervention is vital and we’re going further, piloting a four-week waiting time standard for treatment, training a brand new dedicated mental health workforce for schools across the country, and teaching pupils what good mental and physical health looks like.”
" The system is broken " - emergency mental health 999 incidents double.

Urgent mental health-related incidents attended by police officers have almost doubled in four years as pressures on the 999 service grow.

Norfolk Police are now dealing with an extra 10,000 mental health incidents each year compared with 2014, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

And those which come through the emergency 999 number have now passed 6,000 every year.

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has said they are seeing "more and more people in crisis", and that mental health is a "system-wide issue"..

Police officers have said it is one of the "big drains on resources" and suggested refusing to attend mental health calls could be the "only way" to prompt urgent action from health bosses.

Andy Symonds, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation, said: "The system is broken".

"We are filling the gap in mental health services that do not really exist."

At the start of the year a Freedom of Information request revealed people in Norfolk had been detained in police stations for more than 40 hours awaiting assessment or transfer to hospital.

Mr Symonds said officers, who are not medically trained, will usually opt to detain someone under a section 136 place of safety order to avoid an incident occurring.

But it requires at least two police officers, and can make the person in crisis "feel they are under arrest".

"We can sit there for hours on end waiting for mental health services," he said. "It can be whole shifts sometimes for one incident.

"It is not fair for the person. It is a small area we take them to and we end up sitting on top of each other. They feel they are under arrest and like they are in a cell. It is not a good place to be.

"We get a very small amount of training but it is not enough for people experiencing a mental health episode."

A dedicated officer has now been assigned to Hellesdon Hospital to help deal with the increase in call-outs to the mental health facility.

But Mr Symonds said section 136 jobs have become a "huge drain on resources".

"All that time the officers are not out there dealing with burglaries or serious violence," he said. "They are in a hospital trying their best to look after someone going through a mental health episode.

"It is a real nightmare.

"We are the service of first resort and people think police will deal with it. It has become our job when you have got services who have retreated through austerity - the police end up dealing with it.

"As long as we keep doing it, the longer other public sectors will keep stepping back.

"Saying we won't do it any longer might be the only way they see we shouldn't be leaving people with police officers for hours on end until we make that assessment.

"But we will never say no."

Norfolk Police now has dedicated mental health nurses taking shifts in their control room to help provide information on a particular patient, avoiding the need to section them.

T/Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison said mental health-related incidents are "a significant and growing part of our day to day work".

"Norfolk Constabulary regularly assesses and reviews the impact that mental health demand has on our already stretched police resources," he said.

"We are continually working to gain a better understanding of the demand we face in this area. It must be remembered that the fundamental role of the police service is to keep members of the public safe and protect them from harm and this is our primary aim in any situation.

"Our officers strive every day to protect the vulnerable, often in difficult and complex situations on the frontline, working with our health partners to ensure people receive the treatment and support they need.

"As well as our triage service in the control room, we also have a mental health advice team based in our control room.

"These practitioners will assist with urgent calls when requested by officers or pre-arranged appointments as necessary and we also provide on-going officer training.

"We continue to work closely with our partners in the mental health community at a local, regional working group level and national level, in line with our mental health action plan.

"It is only through a collective effort will we make sure that those who need mental health support receive the very best service possible."

More people in crisis

A spokesperson for NSFT said: "Mental health is a system-wide issue and NSFT works closely with our partner organisations, including the police, ambulance service, GPs and social care to improve the quality of 24-hour care we all deliver to service users.

"As has been seen in other NHS trusts nationally, demand for mental health services has steadily increased over the past five years from people who are increasingly more unwell than before and we are seeing more and more people in crisis. This, in turn, puts more pressure on all of our services.

"We are working in partnership with our commissioners to collectively manage these issues and to ensure that people coming to the attention of the police receive an assessment of their mental health needs as soon as possible and are directed to appropriate services at the earliest opportunity.

"This includes mental health staff in Norfolk working in the police control room and attending appointments with officers when police identify someone who is a person of concern and may require mental health support."
Child mental health unit referrals " Up nearly 50%. "

Referrals to child mental health units from UK primary schools for pupils aged 11 and under have risen by nearly 50% in three years, the BBC has learned.

Replies to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from 46 health trusts indicate they rose from 21,125 to 31,531.

Seven trusts said they had rejected an individual pupil for treatment at least five times over the last four years.

The Department for Education says it is "determined to improve mental health support".

Pupils had also spent more than a year on a waiting list for mental health services at 12 different trusts.

"These figures are deeply worrying and build on evidence which shows emotional disorders in children have increased in recent years," said Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chairwoman of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

"Services for children have been historically underfunded meaning they are unable to meet increased demand," she added.

"The government's aim to provide mental health support in all schools within the next 10 years will be too little, too late for many children who need that help now."

" Acute crisis "

Head teachers have told the BBC that the number of serious mental health episodes is on the rise in their schools.

One pupil was rejected for treatment on nine occasions and another spent nearly three years on a waiting list.

"We're seeing an increase year on year - more and more children with a variety of problems and it just seems to be getting harder and harder to manage", said Dani Worthington, head teacher of Moorside Community Primary School in Halifax.

"We've seen children headbutting walls, punching walls, kicking walls, and this can sometimes happen on a daily basis for these children as they're going through some sort of crisis."

Sue Blair, head teacher at Pennine Way Primary School in Carlisle, said: "I think the crisis is really acute."

She added that she is seeing self-harm in seven and eight year-olds, and pupils struggling with online bullying and eating disorders before they reach secondary school.

BBC News also sent FoI requests to 500 primary schools in England about serious mental health episodes.

It found that 191 primary school pupils had self-harmed on school grounds in the last four years, according to responses received from 155 schools.

These responses, and an account from a further school, also revealed that four pupils have attempted to kill themselves on primary school grounds over the last four years.

What to do if you are worried about your child

Although children often feel low from time to time, if your child is feeling unhappy and low for a prolonged period of time, it is time to seek more professional help.

Any professional working with children and young people should know what to do - for instance a teacher, school counsellor or welfare worker.

If the problem is complex, they may suggest approaching a specialist.

GPs can refer young people to specialist child and mental health services, or parents to a parenting programme.

Head teachers say securing mental health support for pupils can be a real challenge.

Clem Coady, head teacher at Stoneraise School in Carlisle, says he knows of a pupil "experiencing extreme mental health distress" who has been waiting two years for an assessment.

"I find it really abhorrent, there's nothing that we can realistically do that is going to give the child the help that child needs."

In a statement, the Department for Education said: "We are determined to improve mental health support for children and we are transforming services through the NHS Long Term Plan - backed by an extra £2.3bn a year - so that 345,000 more children and young people have access to specialist mental health care by 2023-24."

It said its mental health support teams are "training a new dedicated mental health workforce for schools and colleges across the country".