Support our #Respect4SocialWork campaign today and celebrate the social work profession.
Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

Young people’s mental health services reaching ‘tipping point’

Children’s mental health services are fast approaching “tipping point,” with the COVID-19 pandemic having exacerbated existing challenges, including mental health inequalities.

The NHS Federation has warned that 1.5 million children and young people may need new or additional mental health support as a result of the pandemic – and the figure could be even higher when considering unmet need.

“While the majority of children and young people are generally resilient, a significant number require support for their mental health. This was the case before the pandemic and forecasts predict a worrying increase in demand for mental health services in light of the crisis,” said the report.

“Yet a considerable proportion of children and young people who would benefit from specialist mental health services fail to access them, with crisis point all too often the first time a young person speaks up about their problems,” it added.

The reasons that young people often reach crisis point before receiving help includes:

  • Not been considered ‘ill’ enough to meet thresholds for services
  • A lack of capacity within the system
  • Long waiting times for services
  • Stigma attached to mental health problems
  • Services not being accessible or designed to meet their needs.

“With the pandemic fuelling demand for services and exacerbating existing challenges, there is mounting concern that the mental health system for children and young people in England is reaching tipping point,” warned the report.

Even before the pandemic, the prevalence of mental health problems in children and young people was increasing. The rate of probable mental disorder has increased in five-to-16-year-olds, from one in nine in 2017, to one in six in 2020. While it is difficult to categorise why mental health problems have risen, the report says it is likely that the uncertainty and anxieties caused by the lockdowns, the closure of schools, isolation from peer groups, bereavement, and the stresses and pressures on families are all contributing factors.

There are significant increases in demand for mental health support for children and young people across all services – from primary care to NHS specialist mental health services, voluntary sector, independent sector, and digital providers - but also pressures on acute trusts and local authorities.

The demand for support for eating disorders has risen dramatically in the last year and the number of young people completing an urgent pathway for eating disorders has increased by 141 per cent between the last quarter of 2019/20 and the first quarter of 2021/22.

The NHS Confederation report urges further funding to address the increase in demand and to continue the transformation of services and support for children and young people, especially support in schools and other educational settings.

There should be a greater focus on early intervention and addressing the social determinants of mental health. While there is intense pressure on beds now, priority must be given to preventative and early intervention services over the medium-to-long term, the report adds.

Funding alone, however, will not address the problems and the “chronic staffing shortages and challenges” need to be addressed, including by investing in more children and young people’s mental health specialists and in training and education of the wider workforce.

“Children and young people’s mental health must be a priority for integrated care systems (ICS). They need to focus on addressing the fragmentation of children and young people’s mental health services that many people experience and improve access to both early intervention and specialist mental health services,” the report concludes.

Reaching the tipping point

Working Together For Children

Make an enquiry

A multi-disciplinary organisation providing independent, high quality social work, psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic and family support services. Contact us with your requirements and speak to a member of our team who will help you today.
Make an Enquiry

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Adult social workers – What do they do?

22/09/2021

Social workers in adult services carry out work with adults from a range of backgrounds, many of whom are extremely vulnerable, requiring a sensitive, and supportive approach. Adult social workers provide support and assistance to maintain and promote the independence and well-being of adults. Treating adults with dignity and respect is a key core social [...]

Read Full Story

Myth busters – Tackling the misconceptions within social work

22/09/2021

Left wing loony, interfering, judgemental, cardigan wearing child snatchers. This is how all too often social workers are depicted. Slammed in the press when they ‘remove’ children from families for placing a vulnerable child in care yet made out to be a scapegoat when a vulnerable child is let down by the system.

Unfortunately, the [...]

Read Full Story

Social work during the COVID-19 pandemic

22/09/2021

Social work had to face a complete pendulum swing in social work practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

Prior to COVID, online assessments or meetings were a complete rarity which had to be adequately justified. Yet overnight, as COVID-19 forced England into lockdown in March 2020, social workers still had vulnerable children and families [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
Delivering a diverse, reliable range of services to children and their families across the UK
D1, Parkside, Knowledge Gateway, Nesfield Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 3ZL
Contact Us
WP Quality Assured

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram