5 minutes with... Emily Frith
Emily Frith spoke to Ella Rhodes about CentreForum’s first report on children and young people’s mental health in England. Their research has shown that services turn away, on average, 34 per cent of children and teenagers referred to them by their GPs, teachers or others. This population also wait, on average, 10 months between referral and the start of treatment. The north/south divide seen in much health care is actually reversed in this case, with a higher level of expenditure in the north compared to the south and east of the country. The report also explores government policy on children’s mental health, such as the publication of Future in Mind – a transformation plan published in March 2015 along with a pledge of £1.25bn of funding over the next five years.
Were you surprised by the findings of your report?
The findings of our report confirm what we know anecdotally from the experience of many families and add to the evidence in previous reports such as the House of Commons Select Committee in 2014. So we were not surprised by the findings; nevertheless, our research brings clarity to an area which suffers from a lack of clear and consistent data.
What’s the impact on children, young people and their families on long waiting times and reduced access to services?
There is very strong evidence that early intervention can have a significant impact on the life chances of children and young people with mental health problems. High thresholds for access to care and long waiting times prevent this early help and mean that children's conditions often get worse so that they reach crisis point by the time they are able to get the support they need.
Can you explain a little more about the future for CentreForum, what will you be looking into next?
CentreForum’s Children and Young People's Mental Health Commission will now explore progress since the publication of Future in Mind and will seek to identify the key barriers to transforming services. Our final report will set out clear recommendations to the government and highlight areas of promising practice. After the Commission has finished CentreForum will continue its programme of research into children and young people’s mental health care.
Do you expect the picture for CAMHS to improve over the next five years?
Given the investment of £1.25bn over the next five years it is to be hoped that the picture will improve over that time. There are risks inherent in any major national transformation process, however, and CentreForum is seeking to identify the key barriers that could prevent progress being made, in order to help inform the process of transformation in the months and years ahead.
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