NHS mental health access likely to affect under-18s

A new survey of GPs has found that 99 per cent worry that long delays to see a specialist could leave young people with mental health problems at further risk.

Difficulties in accessing mental health treatment on the NHS and current decision to ration care means that nine in ten family doctors feel that health and social care services for young people who have anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other conditions is 'extremely inadequate' (37 per cent), 'very inadequate' (53 per cent), with only 10 per cent saying they were adequate or good.

With the growth of social media and exam stress often attributed as the reasons why young people face such issues, GPs say that NHS child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) often find that they cannot respond to sharp increases in demand for care, with overwhelmed providers meaning that patients can face delays of up to 18 months or denying necessary treatment. This is despite Prime Minister Theresa May pledging last year to improve mental health care for troubled young people.

Other findings in the survey include: 78 per cent of GPs are worried that too few of their young patients can get treatment for mental ill-health; 86 per cent have witnessed an increase in the number of 11- to 18-year-olds with anxiety in the last two years; 68 per cent are now seeing more under-18s who have or who are self harming; and 88 per cent say it is impossible or very difficult for young people to get help with anxiety.

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