Teenage Mental Health Care Rapped

It is a “national scandal” that young people are being treated in the same psychiatric wards as adults, according to the Children’s Commissioner. Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green said he feared children could be more damaged than helped by the experience. Sir Al was speaking ahead of the publication of a report next week which is expected to warn that there are not enough emergency beds for children with mental health problems.

Almost 1,000 under-18s spend time on an adult wards every year, with more than half of those admissions inappropriate, the study by charity Young Minds is thought to conclude.

Sir Al told the BBC: “It wouldn’t surprise me if children leave adult wards worse than when they went in. Putting children in an age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate environment can only be better for them.”

The report, prepared for Sir Al, who is Children’s Commissioner for England, details the experiences of 16 teenagers aged 13-19 who have been treated on adult wards for their mental health problems.

It apparently finds that some were held in police cells or accident and emergency units until an establishment was located which could take them.

The researchers say placing vulnerable teenagers on adult wards raises child protection issues, with some subjected to sexual advances and offered drugs.