Making Sense is a new initiative by mental health charities Hafal, Bipolar UK, and the Mental Health Foundation, supported by Diverse Cymru, aimed at improving support for children and young people in Wales with a mental illness.We believe there is an urgent need to reform and refocus services for children and young people in order to clarify who is responsible for providing support at different levels of need and, through that refocus, to make a major improvement in services for those in highest need.
Making Sense calls for improvements in mental health services for children and young people in Wales, specifically:
1. The Welsh Government needs to refocus mental health services on those with the highest needs:
General young people’s services such as schools and youth services must address the problems of the majority of young people who get into difficulty, making use of their own staff and in-house counselling services; GPs should provide for those with more serious problems, making use of primary care-level services including counselling; Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS) should support those with the most severe problems.
2. Waiting times for children and young people to be assessed by CAMHS need to be reduced:
Many young people are waiting for several weeks to be assessed, causing unacceptable distress to them and their families and raising levels of risk. Some young people need same-day attention; others should be seen within just a few days. And where the assessment indicates this appropriate services should be provided promptly following the assessment.
3. CAMHS need to raise their game in providing services to children and young people:
New standards in their treatment need to be established and delivered, building on the holistic Care and Treatment Plan prescribed by the Mental Health Measure and its Codes of Practice. All life areas need to be considered and all relevant agencies need to be coordinated to deliver on Plans: this includes non-mental health agencies but responsibility to coordinate the overall response lies with CAMHS.
Note: Key point of reference for new standards – Hafal and partners’ “Care and Treatment Planning: A step-by-step guide for secondary mental health service users”
4. Young people should not face disadvantage when they reach 18:
We need to end the abrupt and disruptive transition from CAMHS to adult services. Through Care and Treatment Plans, which apply to both under and over 18s, young people should see continuity of high quality support over 18. Protocols are also required to enable staff to work across the age divide to ensure this continuity of professional support.
5. Carers should be supported:
The carers and family of young people with a serious mental illness are often the most important part of the team helping a young person. Mental health services need to establish and deliver a new standard of communication, engagement and support for carers which recognises this.
Note: Key point of reference for new standards – Hafal’s “10 Point Plan for Mental Health Carers”