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Our children are attempting suicide to get help

Children attempting suicide.

Not a sentence that anyone wishes to read.

In the UK, it is fair to say that we are in a Mental Health Crisis. Access to services to help is difficult and takes time.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, has said pupils as young as 13 years old feel they need to attempt suicide to access Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHs).

Schools are dealing with rising numbers of suicidal pupils.

Ms Longfield has called for ‘seismic change’ to mental health services for the young.

She warns MPs that things need to change following the review of a report. The report shows children’s psychiatric services are receiving an average of just 6% of the mental health budget. This is despite children making up around 20% of the population.

It appears that assistance from CAMHS is very difficult to access. The threshold to access help is getting higher and higher.

CAMHS are the NHS services that assesses and treats young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

CAMHS support covers:

  • depression,
  • problems with food,
  • self-harm, abuse,
  • violence or anger,
  • bipolar,
  • schizophrenia, and
  • anxiety

There are local NHS CAMHS services around the UK, with teams made up of nurses, therapists, psychologists, support workers and social workers, as well as other professionals.

Ms Longfield was giving evidence to the House of Commons Health Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into CAMHS.

When asked about suicide involving children and young people, Ms Longfield said: “Visiting a school quite recently, they told me that actually they had had five occasions of either attempted or threatened suicide in this year alone, and that was something that they would never have had five or six years ago."

Ms Longfield said she was "really shocked", after she was appointed children's commissioner, "when 13-year-olds told me that they understood that feeling suicidal wouldn’t get them treatment".

Ms Longfield also said children reported "high levels of self-harm" and talked about it as "being part of life".

The Government said £1.4 billion would be spent on child mental health between now and 2021. However, MPs on the Health Committee raised concerns that in at least 39 local areas the money is not getting to the front line.

Currently only 1 in 4 children with a psychiatric condition is receiving treatment.

This is completely unacceptable.

There appears to be a lack of resources amid increased demand.

If the children had some form of physical health problem they would be treated as matters of urgency. Yet, mental health problems are still not being treated with the same level of urgency.

If mental health issues are tackled towards the early stages of their development, treatment is likely to be more successful.

The fact children that across the country believe attempting suicide is the only way they can access mental health care is outrageous and change must happen urgently.

Here at Swain & Co our specialist Mental Health Lawyers have represented many children detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended). We have assisted them to access the help they so desperately need in the community once discharged.

Swain & Co Solicitors work tirelessly to assist vulnerable people and ensure that their rights under the Mental Health Act are observed.  If you, a family member or friend are experiencing problems or are detained under the Mental Health Act contact our team today on 023 92 483322.

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