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Renewed focus and investment needed in preventive measures: BASW responds to EPI report on children’s access to mental health treatment

Today’s report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) examining new data on access to specialist treatment for children and young people with mental health problems, and the waiting times they face, is indicative of the high threshold of eligibility criteria referrals must meet.

The report states over a quarter (26.3 per cent) of children referred to specialist mental health services were not accepted in 2016-17. 

This also, no doubt, correlates with the limited and stretched resources services must work with due to reduced funding from central government.  Long waiting times are also symptomatic of this. 

The report also highlights the negative impact that the scarcity of prevention and early intervention services for children and young people is having on mainstream services. 

BASW is calling for serious financial investment; better co-ordination of services; standardised referral processes and appropriate training for professionals (across the public, private and voluntary sectors). 

A renewed energy and focus is imperative to improve the early intervention and preventative provisions available in our communities’ – otherwise we risk exacerbating the conditions of children and young people and their reliance on the mental health system.

BASW is currently working with an All-Party Parliamentary Group with a wider focus on mental health, but also specifically on children’s and adolescent mental health services.