CHILDREN and young people’s mental health services in Cumbria are insufficient for the growing demands of the area, a damning report has revealed.
Health experts say increasing numbers are being identified with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Other mental health problems amongst youngsters – especially self-harm and other “risk-taking” behaviours – are also on the rise.
Cindy Daltioni, chief officer of South Cumbrian charity Self Harm for the Furness Area, said: “SAFA have been campaigning for several years for improvement in mental health services, and it is heartening to hear acknowledgment and recognition of the poor and inadequate service provision currently on offer.”
Dr Neela Shabde, clinical director for children and families for NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The National Institute of Clinical Excellence has produced clear and detailed guidelines about assessment and treatment strategies of a number of child mental health disorders.
“In view of this, GP commissioners and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust decided to commission external experts to review current provision and recommend how services can be improved.”
The report found Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) teams are understaffed, and NICE guidance needs to be better acknowledged.
Planned improvements include appointing two new consultant psychiatrists, more nurses working with children and better referral procedures, plus extended operating hours, improved pathways for children with ASD and ADHD, and better arrangements for children moving to adult services aged 18.
Dr Chris Hallewell, medical director at Cumbria Partnership, said: “We will take forward the plans in line with the recommendations in the report and will be involving local GPs and other health and social care partners in the process.”
Mrs Daltioni hopes this will see health professionals working more closely with organisations like SAFA, which in May was given a Cumbria County Council grant to deliver counselling services.
She said: “The 18-month project is designed to deliver early intervention and better outcomes for those in need.”