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Children in England at clear risk ‘cannot get mental health bed’

Young people in the midst of a mental health crisis need to have attempted suicide several times before they get a bed in an inpatient unit in England, a report has revealed.

Admission criteria for beds in child and adolescent mental health units are now so tight that even very vulnerable under-18s who pose a clear risk to themselves cannot get one.

The practice – caused by the NHS’s lack of mental health beds – leaves young people at risk of further harm, their parents confused, exhausted and worried, and the police and ambulance services potentially having to step in.

The high thresholds for admission to a child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) unit are detailed in a report on NHS mental health care for under-18s in England based on interviews with patients, their parents and specialist staff who look after them.

The report says a young person has to “have attempted suicide multiple times to be offered inpatient support”.

Olly Parker, the head of external affairs at the charity Young Minds, said: “It is shameful that children and young people are reaching crisis point before they get any support for their mental health. We know from our own research that thousands have waited so long for mental health support or treatment that they have attempted to take their own life.

“Those who end up in A&E are often there because they don’t know where else to turn. But A&E can be a crowded and stressful environment, and is usually not the best place to get appropriate help.”

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Source: The Guardian, 18 January 2023


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