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A foot in the door: VCS providers' view of CAMHS transformation

Future in Mind, the Government report of the work of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce, set out “what we need to do to overcome the status quo”. One of the report’s proposals was to increase investment in the existing network of Youth Information, Advice and Counselling Services (YIACS) – the primary VCS deliverers of youth mental health services – as a way of increasing the accessibility of services to young people.

Youth Access represents a national network of around 170 YIACS. YIACS take a holistic, young person-centred approach, delivering complementary interventions ‘under one roof’ to support young people on a wide range of issues from mental health, sexual health, drugs and alcohol to homelessness, money and employment. The YIACS model is increasingly recognised as a highly effective and efficient form of mental health provision for young people. The extent to which Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and local authorities embrace the change urged by Future in Mind and harness the potential of VCS delivery models to drive transformation will be crucial to the development of YIACS.

To ensure accountability in the distribution of new funding for children and young people’s mental health, all CCGs were required to produce a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Local Transformation Plan in conjunction with local stakeholders. These Local Transformation Plans were developed during the second half of 2015.

Fuelled by the promise from Government of an additional £1.25 billion investment in children and young people’s mental health over the five years from 2015-2020, there is intense interest in the content of Local Transformation Plans. Alongside scrutiny of the plans by bodies such as NHS England and Healthwatch, capturing the views of voluntary sector providers is an important part of understanding developments on the ground.

Between August and September 2015, Youth Access conducted an initial survey of our members to ascertain YIACS’ experiences of the early stages of the CAMHS transformation planning process. Our report, ‘More of the Same?’, published in January 2016, highlighted widely varying expectations of change amongst YIACS in different parts of the country. Whilst some felt optimistic that their progressive models of delivery would come to the fore and attract new monies, others raised concerns that protectionism within statutory services was threatening to undermine existing early intervention services in the VCS.

In ‘More of the Same?’ we acknowledged that the timing of our initial survey only enabled us to capture YIACS’ early experiences of the transformation planning process and that a further survey would be required once Local Transformation Plans were published.