Improving mental health services for young people. Kathryn Pugh – NHS England

When you’re busy it’s not easy to make time to pause for breath.  But with so much going on it is absolutely crucial to do just this. With this in mind I’d like to take a look at what has happened since Future in Mind and the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health were published.

So what has been going on in young people’s mental health?

We’ve seen fantastic joined up working with Local Transformation Plans. These are joined up plans from health, local authorities and others – and the key to getting children’s and young people’s (CYP) mental health services to the right people, in the right place at the right time. There’s been a review of inpatient services, to understand how we can minimise the distance children, young people and their families have to travel for care.  We are currently testing out different ways of improving Crisis Care and 67 dedicated eating disorders teams have been extended or created.

We’ve been working with 255 schools across 22 Clinical Commissioning Groups to improve contact between the NHS CYP mental health services and schools or colleges.  The evaluation shows benefits across the whole school, with teachers more confident in what to do and services more able to support them.   We are increasing support for children and young people in the secure system, such as Youth Offending Institutions. And we are also set to publish evidence based treatment pathways from first contact to inpatient care, including crisis.  In addition to this there is work underway across other organisations – training staff, campaigning against stigma, supporting schools and colleges.

And what next?

This pause for breath helps us see how much we’ve accomplished.  But it also shows we need to do more, to keep improving access to care. I often get asked by young people what they can do to get involved.  Service and CCG participation groups are one way, or joining groups run by national organisations like the Association for Young People’s Health who help ensure we keep children, young people and their families at the centre of what we do.  Though, actually – it may be simpler than that.  If every single person reading this, looked up their Local Transformation Plan on the CCG or Local Authority website, and commented on it to their local commissioners I think we could really start to motor!

Kathryn Pugh is the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Programme Lead in the Mental Health Policy and Strategy Team at NHS England for the change programme supported by new money announced in the Autumn Statement 2014 and the Spring Budget 2015.   In June 2015 she was awarded an MBE for services to children and young people with mental health problems.  Follow Kathryn on twitter.

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