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08.05.17

Barnardo’s calls for urgent review of mental health treatment targets

Mental health treatment targets are in urgent need of review and must be improved to make the state of care in the UK better, a leading charity has today stated.

To mark the start of mental health awareness week, children’s charity Barnardo’s has called on the next government to improve on its current target for 95% of people suffering from mental health problems to be referred to counselling within 18 weeks.

Barnardo’s also called on politicians to ensure that there was parity between the treatment of mental and physical health.

One parent, Sarah Jones, relied on Barnardo’s services when her 14-year-old daughter Rachel, who has ADHD, began self-harming after being bullied at school.

Ms Jones had to wait five months to see a psychologist – and is still waiting to see a psychiatrist about her daughter’s mental health.

“There’s a very long waiting list and they are totally under-resourced,” Ms Jones stated. “I’m a healthcare professional and I cannot navigate the system.

“If I cannot navigate the system as a healthcare professional then how can someone do it who does not know the system?”

She stated that pressure needed to be placed on the next government about Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services to reduce waiting times and improve care outcomes for mental health patients.

Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo’s, said: “Improvements in children’s mental health treatment have been made over successive governments.”

But he added that early intervention was crucial to treating mental issues before they got worse – and that schools and colleges had a big part to play in identifying issues before they worsened.

“But as the experience of Rachel and her mother shows we have a long road ahead of us,” Khan explained. “With access to school-based counselling, children like Rachel will be helped to go on and live healthy and happy lives.”

Barnardo’s call also follows a number of other messages from other organisations, including NHS Confed, who called on the government to work harder to deliver pledges made in the FYFV.

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