Archbishop asks for better early intervention in children’s mental health services

On 30th October 2017 Baroness Walmsley asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they are taking to ensure that children and young people can obtain timely access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services”. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, asked a follow up question:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: I declare an interest as having members of the family who have used child and adolescent mental health services. Does the Minister not agree that the fundamental principle of the NHS is free treatment at the point of need? Does he also agree that one of the major failures in CAMHS—it has been well evidenced by academic studies over the last two years—has been that, because of the shortage of resources, only those with the most critical needs are treated at all, and the early intervention which would help prevent needs becoming critical has been deeply neglected owing to an absence or lack of specialised therapies, particularly talking therapies? Will he confirm that the work on the most critical side is going to be extended so that children and adolescents can get care earlier and more effectively, saving the state money and fulfilling the purposes of the NHS?

Lord O’Shaughnessy: Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with the most reverend Primate. We are making up for lost time, unfortunately, with children and young people’s mental health care and there is a lot to do. He will be pleased that the additional funding being provided is helping with the rollout of the children and young people’s IAPTs—the talking therapies. As I said, the intention of the extra funding is to be able to treat 70,000 more young people, on top of those who have already been treated, by 2021—so more young people are being seen. That will increase the 25% of the potential caseload currently dealt with to 35%. Obviously that is better but it is not the whole way.