On the 13th April 2016 Lord Harris of Haringey asked a question of the Government about the assessment they have made of the number of deaths amongst child and adolescent patients in psychiatric units, in the light of the investigation conducted by the charity Inquest. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith asked a supplementary question about mental health care available to young people.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, part of the answer to this difficult problem must be to ensure that we get the very best mental health care for young people at the earliest stage possible. I notice that earlier this week a report was published by the think tank CentreForum pointing out that mental health providers turned away 23% of the referrals of under-18s made to them. That includes illnesses such as anorexia, and sometimes young people are turned away because at that stage they have an insufficiently low BMI to justify being treated, despite the evidence that early diagnosis and treatment produce the best results. In the light of that, can the Minister reassure the House that Her Majesty’s Government are keeping under review the criteria by which people are able to access these mental health services, to ensure that we get the best outcomes?
Lord Prior of Brampton: My Lords, there is no question but that early intervention is critical. There is a huge amount of unmet need. I expect that everyone in this House will know someone who has a child who has suffered from mental health problems, whether anorexia, self-harm or other aspects of mental ill health. It is a complete disaster, and for anyone who watched that “Panorama” programme it will have been brought very close to home. What the right reverend Prelate says is absolutely right. As I said in answer to the earlier question, we have a long way to go.