Lightning Review: Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services May 2016

This report by The Children’s Commissioner came to the following conclusions: —

Access to CAMHS is a post code lottery: the report found variations in the number and proportion of children and young people being referred to CAMHS across different regions. They also found that once referred, the likelihood of receiving treatment varied significantly across regions from 80% in CAMHS offering services in multiple regions not being allocated a service to 18% in the South East and West Midlands. The average waiting time ranged from ranged from 14 days (a CAMHS in the North West) to 200 days (a CAMHS in the West Midlands).

Children and young people are being turned away when they need help: Previous studies have highlighted that restrictions and thresholds set by CAMHS are high. They found that 79% of CAMHS imposed restrictions and thresholds for children and young people accessing their service. Almost half of CAMHS who responded to the request by the Children’s Commissioner reported to only offer services for particular diagnosable conditions and almost three quarters offered treatment based on the severity of the mental health condition. As a result, 28% of children and young people referred to CAMHS in 2015 were not allocated a service.

Children and young people who miss appointments can face restrictions: 35% of CAMHS stated that children and young people who miss appointments will face restrictions. 29% stated that children and young people would be discharged. 48% of all CAMHS stated that they would try to find alternative provisions for that child or young person. The report found that there are a myriad of reasons why a child or young person miss appointments. Often, missing appointments can be an indication that other needs are not being met and/or a cause for concern. Thus, it is concerning to find that some CAMHS are still discharging children and young people without following up on whether they are ok.

The full report can be found at children’