Cash Vow For Child Mental Health

Over £30m is to be spent to help prevent young mental health patients in England being treated on the same wards as adults.

The government pledged to end the practice last year in a shake-up of child mental health care.

Mental health charities say that staff on adult wards are often not trained to help younger patients.

The investment will provide 59 new beds, and pay for some 45 others to be moved to more appropriate locations.

The issue was highlighted by a report from the Children’s Commissioner, Professor Al Aynsley-Green, and the charity YoungMinds in January this year.

The report said that children frequently ended up on adult wards either because no children’s beds were available, or because there was no way to access them in an emergency.

Children on adult wards said they did not feel involved in their care, were often bored, and were even fearful of sexual harassment or aggression from adult patients.

Some young patients reported that they had the opportunity to self-harm or take drugs while staying on an adult ward.

The report recommended that wherever possible, no under-16s should end up on adult wards, and where they did, extra steps should be taken to protect them.

The latest investment pays for a total of 17 projects across England.

In addition to the new and relocated beds, 52 beds will be refurbished to make them more suitable for child patients.

Health Minister Ivan Lewis said: “In November 2006, I made it clear that within two years no child under 16 would be treated on an adult psychiatric ward.

“Vulnerable children deserve age-appropriate services that recognise, irrespective of their condition, that they are first and foremost children.”

Barbara Herts, the Chief Executive of YoungMinds, welcomed the extra money, saying it would ensure better mental health services to children “no matter where they live in England”.

Sophie Corlett, the policy director of the mental health charity Mind said: “This a welcome investment from the Government that is long overdue.

“Many mental health patients have been exposed to wards that are not appropriate to their age, gender or culture.

“Any commitment to improve the inpatient environment for adults or children and young people so that it helps rather than hinders patient recovery is a step in the right direction.”