Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner said,
“The number of children being referred by health professionals for an assessment for specialist mental health or ‘Tier 3’ services has increased from 7408 in 2013/14 to 8285 in 2015/16. However, the percentage of children being accepted by the service is decreasing (from 67% to 58% respectively).
“There is no data available to tell us why they have been refused by the service, where these vulnerable children go after they are refused, or if they receive another service or none, because the system does not record that data.”
Specialist Mental Health Services or ‘Tier 3’ services are those to which children are referred by GPs and other child health professionals when their mental ill health is having a ‘severe or enduring impact on their daily psychological, social and/or educational functioning.’
Koulla continued, “The rise in the number of children being referred to the service may mean more children are seeking help for their mental health – and that can only be a good thing.
“The investment and resource within these services must meet the need and this is not currently the case when for every pound spend on mental health our Government invest less that 8p on children and young people.”
Last year (2015/16) 8,285 children and young people were referred to specialist mental health services for an assessment; 4,781 (58%) were accepted and 3,504 (42%) were not. 33% were not accepted in 2013/14 and 40% were not accepted in 2014/15.
Koulla concluded “We need to understand that specialist mental health services are only one of 5 tiers of support within this complex system. There should be a wide range of support and services available to promote mental health and emotional wellbeing, and to identify and respond to need. This cuts across social services, education, child health and specialist mental health services.”
“We must listen to young people’s experiences and views of accessing and trying to access support in relation to their mental health. Our survey, which allows children and young people to share their experiences, is open until the end of November.”
“I urge children and young people aged 11 – 21 along with their parents and carers who have had, or have tried to obtain help for their mental health, to visit our online survey (www.niccy.org/SpeakYourMind) so their experiences are captured and can help shape the future of mental health services”
The Commissioner’s Review aims to assess the adequacy of mental health services and support for children and young people, highlight good practice and identify barriers which prevent them from fully realising their rights to the highest attainable standard of health. It will report in full in Autumn 2018.
Notes to Editors