Improving Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing
Good emotional wellbeing and mental health is essential to enable children and young people to enjoy life, achieve and make a successful transition to adulthood.
Over half of all mental ill health starts before the age of 14 years, and 75% has developed by the age of 18. The life chances of those individuals are significantly reduced in terms of their physical health, their educational and work prospects, their chances of committing a crime and even the length of their life. The Government has made clear its commitment that mental health services for people of all ages should have parity of esteem with physical health services.
The prevalence of mental health problems in children and adolescents was last surveyed in 2004. This study estimated that in England, 7.7% or nearly 340,000 children aged 5-10 years have a mental disorder. This increases to 11.5% or about 510,000 young people aged between 11-16 years who have a mental disorder.
This means in an average class of 30 schoolchildren, 3 will suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. In areas of high deprivation, such as Croydon, the prevalence rates are even higher. The responsibility for this rests with all agencies and child and adolescent mental health services should play an integral part for the children, young people and families of Croydon.
The Local Transformation Plan sets out Croydon’s multi-agency approach to promoting children’s emotional wellbeing and mental health, along with an action plan which sets out clearly what we will do to achieve this.
There is now welcome recognition of the need to strengthen and transform child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) both on a national and local basis. Consecutive recent policy reviews by the Health Select Committee (2014), NHS England’s CAMHS Tier 4 Report (2014) and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce (2015) have identified consistent weaknesses in arrangements for services across England which must be remedied in order to support the improvement of the emotional wellbeing of children and young people (section 3). These weaknesses include, but are not limited to: significant gaps in data and information; the treatment gap, with a number of people with diagnosable mental health difficulties not receiving services; difficulties in access; a complex commissioning environment; variable crisis services and specific issues facing highly vulnerable groups.
The picture in Croydon reflects some of the same challenges, and these are systematically addressed through this Local Transformation Plan. In addition, services in Croydon face very clear demographic pressures. The borough has the largest resident population in London, and the largest number of 0-16 and 0-19 year olds. In recent years, Croydon’s population has been growing more deprived at a faster rate than any other South London borough. The recent JSNA deep dive chapter on emotional wellbeing estimated that there were 21,000 children and young people in Croydon, with some form of mental health need, meaning that services require a broad reach and a full multi-agency response is necessary to support children and young people’s wellbeing (section 5).
The Plan offers a whole systems approach to strengthening specialist services including Eating Disorders and Crisis Care at Tier 4, reducing waiting times and eliminating waiting lists at Tier 3, whilst building wider system resilience at Tiers 1 and 2. In keeping with Future In Mind, this constitutes a move away from a system defined in terms of the services and/or organisations provided (the ‘Tiered’ model) towards one built around the needs of children, young people and their families (section 11). The Plan draws on a broad range of needs analysis, engagement and consultation in order to help ensure it meets the needs of the population (sections 6 and 7).