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‘Rigorous investment’ needed in child mental health services


The number of children with mental health needs in the UK is increasing, according to a UN group.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child said young people with mental health conditions are often treated far away from home and do not receive adequate child-specific attention and support. It said that the number of child suicides has been steadily increasing in Northern Ireland in the past 10 years

The committee called for the UK to ‘rigorously invest’ in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) with a particular focus on children in care and young people at greater risk.

The charity National Children’s Bureau (NCB), an ASDAN registered centre, said: "Currently, the right to good health and healthcare is being undermined for those children in or leaving care, who are already at increased risk of poor physical and mental health. NCB strongly welcomes the committee's recommendation for rigorous CAMHS strategies which pay particular attention to children in care."

The committee also called for sexual health education to be a mandatory part of the school curriculum.

The NCB added: "Young people tell us time and again that they want better teaching on essential topics which prepare them for life. The committee rightly calls upon government to ensure that children in all schools have access to age-appropriate sex and relationships education. PSHE must be a statutory part of a whole-school approach to promoting wellbeing if we are to guarantee all pupils their right to vital lessons which prepare them for adulthood."

In order to tackle the poor health outcomes and weak employment prospects of care leavers, ASDAN is currently piloting a Short Course called ‘Living Independently’. The programme, which is being trialled by bodies including Bristol City and North Somerset Councils, will be available to all ASDAN registered centres in September.

Kath Grant, ASDAN Director of Education, said: "We have a long-held view that all young people would benefit from high quality PSHE. If it were a statutory subject, children would be more aware of their rights to adequate and appropriate mental health services and would be better equipped to respond in situations where those rights have been compromised.

"We are also concerned about the underachievement of young people who are looked after. Our Living Independently programme has been designed for non-formal settings with support from trusted adults."

ASDAN provides a PSHE Short Course and Sex and Relationships Short Course.