ACP responds to the joint select committees inquiry about children and young people's mental health

The Association of Child Psychotherapists responds to the joint inquiry of the House of Commons Select Committees on Health and Education, into the proposed scope and implementation of the green paper on children and young people’s (CYP) mental health.

The ACP's CEO, Nick Waggett, responded on behalf of the ACP, stating that whilst the ACP supports the intentions of the green paper, it doesn’t go far enough in a number of areas and misses key opportunities to provide the much needed transformation of CYP mental health services.

The ACP supports the aim that schools and colleges should be at the heart of efforts to identify mental health problems in CYP and that 'all CYP should have access to high-quality mental health and well-being support linked to their school or college'. However, concern is raised that the scope of the green paper significantly fails to address the already recognised problems in the provision of mental health services for children and young people and how the green paper therefore doesn’t address the government’s own ‘Parity of Esteem’ test.  For example, a similar solution would not be proposed if there were identified problems with core NHS services for cancer, heart disease or diabetes. The response sets out how community based early identification, triage and first aid services for conditions such as these might be felt to be an important adjunct to specialist NHS provision, and as a way to support access and referral to them, but not as an alternative to properly resourced clinical care provided by specialist NHS staff.

The response also describes an effective model where mental health professionals employed by CAMH services are based in the school setting, to ensure that members of the team are effectively linked into both health and education services, in order to provide effective early intervention, crucial in preventing problems developing and worsening. The role of specialist mental health interventions are mentioned, which can support parent-infant relationships at one end of the age-range and youth justice services at the other and agrees that CYP mental health services should include young people up to the age of 25. The importance of seeing the person as a whole rather than through diagnostic pathways is also clear.

The response explains how there is a need for both school-based AND specialist NHS services, but the role of specialists like child and adolescent psychotherapists is key in understanding and assessing what additional support is needed.

There are also concerns raised about the waiting time target and how the four-week waiting time target, in isolation from action to improve and resource specialist NHS services, is likely to lead to a deterioration in services offered to CYP who are most in need. In relation to the waiting time target, the response identifies that the only possible solution will be to address the mismatch between demand and supply of CAMH services, and in particular the current diminution of specialist services offered within the NHS.

You can find out more information and read the full response here