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No help until ‘crisis point’ reached, report 80% of parents to children with mental health problems

Over 80% of parents to children with mental health problems had to wait until a ‘crisis point’ before they could access support services.

An NHS England-commissioned survey of over 350 parents involved in Young Minds’ ‘Parents Say’ project revealed a raft of problems that parents face when dealing with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Young Minds’ chief executive Sarah Brennan said the survey ‘starkly demonstrates that parents of young people with mental health problems far too often have to battle to get the support their children need’.

Other results included:

  • Almost three quarters said that CAMHS does not have enough resources to meet the needs of children and young people with mental health problems
  • One in four parents had to wait over 12 months to receive treatment for their child

The results come as figures released last month showed that NHS expenditure on child and adolescent mental health services fell by 6% in real terms 2009/10 and until 2013 and as an in-depth Pulse investigation last year showed how the cuts to CAMHS services are piling pressure on GPs. Pulse also revealed that CCG cuts were applying 1.8% cuts to their CAMHS budgets on average, despite already overstretched GP services.

NHS England and Young Minds have released the survey the publication of their jointly produced ‘Parents Say’ ‘toolkit’, which will allow parents to create a participation action plan through an online step-by-step interactive guide.

Ms Brennan said: ‘Our research also shows how parents often feel alienated from their child’s treatment and are frustrated at the lack of resources available to support young people with mental health problems. We hope our ‘Parents Say’ toolkit will enable all CAMHS to embed these principles in their service and give parents and carers the opportunity to have their voice heard.’

NHS England’s director for long-term conditions Dr Martin McShane said: ‘We must listen to young people and their parents, involve them directly in the treatment they get, and in service delivery and design.

‘We commissioned the ‘Parents Say’ survey because we wanted to know what changes parents want and what is and is not working well.’