On December 2, 104, the UK Government made the following announcement:

Nick CleggThe new investment will radically reform the treatment of children and young people with eating disorders and pave the way for new waiting time standards.

The investment, which will be rolled out over 5 years and has been secured by the Deputy Prime Minister in this year’s Autumn Statement, is part of an ongoing campaign by the government to bring mental health services on a par with physical care.

It comes just a month after research revealed that an increasing number of young people, from as young as 5, are being admitted to hospital for treatment of eating disorders with those aged 14 to 25 most likely to be affected.

Today’s announcement will focus on channelling money from expensive institutional care to local provision and act as a base for the development of waiting time and access standards for eating disorders for 2016 by:

  • supporting schemes to get young people with eating disorders and self-harm early access to services in their communities with properly trained teams, making hospital admission a last resort
  • extending access to talking therapies so that children and young people have a choice of evidence-based therapies, a treatment plan agreed with their therapist and monitored and recorded outcomes

This will deliver:

swifter access to evidence based community treatment
fewer transfers to adult services – reducing up to approximately 70% of those who need to be treated as adults
an end to the current cliff edge of transition for young people with eating disorders when they turn 18
a more standardised level of provision for children, young people and their families

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

  • Too often children with mental health problems are being completely let down, with many suffering from eating disorders that go unreported and untreated.
  • We know that if an eating disorder goes untreated for more than 3 to 5 years the chances of recovery are greatly reduced, while incidents of self-harm increase.
  • That’s why we need to act now to transform the current system, intervening earlier with dedicated and targeted community-based services to ensure that we don’t fail this generation or the next.
  • The Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce is already undertaking a focused programme of work which will result in recommendations across the spectrum of child and adolescent mental health services. They will report in spring 2015. These proposals take into account their likely recommendations.

Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said:

“I want to build a fairer society and that’s why I’m determined to make sure children and young people get the best possible mental health care. That’s why I convened a taskforce of experts to focus on improving services. Better care for eating disorders is a top priority and this investment will help drive up standards so that no child is left without support.”

Improving access to mental health services

Today’s announcement builds on the Deputy Prime Minister’s long-standing commitment to improve access to mental health services:

  • the Deputy PM announced that he will be establishing and chairing a new Mental Health Taskforce, which will include Cabinet ministers from across the coalition
  • in October this year, he announced a £120 million investment in mental health, which will include the introduction in April 2015 of the first ever waiting time standards for mental health in the NHS
  • the government has invested £54 million into the Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, which has transformed the way services are delivered
  • the government has also invested £1.6 million in the development of an online training tool for those working with children and young people, called MindEd
  • last summer, the government launched the Crisis Care Concordat to set out how police, health, social work and ambulance workers should best work together to help people going through a mental health crisis. It describes the principles and best practice that need to be in place to make sure that crisis services work together to provide vulnerable people with safe care and support in an appropriate environment
  • the government’s mental health strategy has also built a firm foundation for improving services across the country with £400 million investment to expand talking therapies

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of Young Minds said:

It is great news indeed to hear that areas of support for children and young people’s mental health will receive additional, desperately needed, resources.

Too often children and young people’s services are overlooked in preference for adult services. Young people make up 20% of the population, yet receive a fraction of the resources available with the terrible consequences we hear about daily in the news.

We wish to congratulate the government on championing the change, in recognising there is a huge gap to address and in taking the first steps to focus funds where they are so badly needed – for children and young people.

We trust this is the beginning of a new approach by government and commissioners nationally, and that the Mental Health Taskforce recommendations will receive equal support in March and with future governments.

You can read the full statement here.

Commenting on this news Shelley Perry, Clinical Director of Breathe said: “This is wonderful encouraging news. Let us hope and pray that some of this funding gets to grass roots level for the benefit of young people in Lancashire”.

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