Voluntary sector mental health models offer hope to struggling NHS

As the Public Accounts Committee expresses concerns about funding of UK mental health services, Youth Access takes next step in strengthening the voluntary sector's offer for young people.

This week an influential group of MPs has expressed concern that the Government's "laudable ambition" to improve mental health services will be difficult to achieve within current levels of NHS funding. Today, Youth Access, the advice and counselling network, calls on commissioners, as they revamp their local CAMHS transformation plans, to harness the benefits of effective voluntary sector models in meeting these challenges.   

The Government has already highlighted a greater need for cost-effective, joined up services to ease the strain on traditional mental health services, but MPs are concerned that the NHS will struggle to deliver planned reforms. Local voluntary sector YIACS (Youth Information, Advice and Counselling Services) have been identified as key to improving young people's access to services and already exist in many communities. Youth Access is working to strengthen these services in local mental health provision and leading improvements in the commissioning of holistic services for young people. Activities include: 

  • The development of a charter, co-produced with young people, to let service users know what they can and should expect from a service 
  • The development of a framework to secure the quality of services and ensure local commissioners invest in the most effective services 
  • Improved branding to help raise the visibility of the YIACS sector 

As the next step in this process, Youth Access today unveils a new website making it easier for young people and parents to find their local YIACS. 

James Kenrick, Head of Policy and Development at Youth Access, says: 

"Many areas are making great strides towards transforming CAMHS, but there remains a resistance to change in other areas. The worrying financial position of the NHS makes it more important than ever that the ambitions for reform set out in 'Future In Mind', the Government's blueprint for children and young people's mental health services, are realised at speed. This requires greater investment by local commissioners in YIACS and other proven voluntary sector models. Ultimately, we all want the same thing - to secure a better deal for young people, in which it is easier for them to get the help they need, when they need it."