“We need well-funded, community-based mental health services”, young people tell Government

A group of young adults has told policy makers and senior government officials that access to early intervention services based in community settings should be a priority for the Government’s forthcoming Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health.

Our new report highlights the key asks arising from a youth-led ‘Mental Health Takeover’ held at the Department of Health (DH) earlier in the year. The event was designed on behalf of DH and the Young People’s Health Partnership by a group of young people supported by Youth Access.

Young adults aged 16-25 created a solution-focussed event that answered the question ‘How can we improve young adults’ access to mental health services?’ Working together with key decision-makers with responsibility for mental health across government agencies, such as NHS England and Public Health England, attendees tackled five priority areas:

  • Government spending on mental health services for young adults
  • Problems young adults face in accessing mental health services for the first time
  • What services should look and feel like
  • Transitions from CAMHS to adult mental health services
  • Issues for particularly vulnerable/oppressed groups of young people

The group were delighted that the Government were seeking their opinions on this important subject, particularly with the publication of a Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health expected this autumn. One attendee commented “Youth voice is incredibly powerful, and directly working with the Department of Health lets us have our voice heard by the policy makers. Participation should be at the heart of improving services”.

Young adults agreed three clear messages that they wanted policy makers to take away from the day:

  1. Young adults need sustainable, community-based mental health services
  2. All services should be available to young people up to the age of 25
  3. Services for young adults should be funded out of both child and adult mental health budgets

​Contrary to an expected emphasis on the role of schools in the Green Paper, young people were keen to stress the limitations of mental health provision in schools and the urgent need to boost early intervention services in the community – a point also made recently in reports by the Education Policy Institute, Barnardos and The Children’s Society amongst others.

James Kenrick, Youth Access’ new Chief Executive, comments:

“We are encouraged by the Government’s determination to improve mental health services for young people and by the Prime Minister’s personal commitment in this area. With 75% of lifetime mental illness first presenting itself by age 25, the lack of appropriate services for young adults is one of the greatest areas of weakness in the system. We are grateful to the Department of Health for giving young people the opportunity to ensure forthcoming Government policy on children and young people’s mental health is informed by the voices of experts – young people with lived experience. Young people’s own priorities for change couldn’t be clearer.”

Download the full report from Mental Health Takeover 2017

Download ‘Young, adult – and ignored: Getting a fair deal for 16-24 year olds from mental health services, a policy briefing by Youth Access and The Young People’s Health Partnership

For further information, please email Karen@youthaccess.org.uk