More Cash for Mental Health Care is Urged

More cash needs to be poured into Ulster’s mental health and learning disability services, a major new report claims today. The Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability (NI) says that a new approach to mental health problems among children and adolescents is needed. The report, ‘A Vision of a Comprehensive Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) Service’, was published today.

It argues that it makes sense to spend more on mental health disorders in children, to avoid the danger of storing up problems for the future.

Moira Davren, convenor of the Review’s Expert Working Committee on CAMH services, said the balance was wrong. “We all know that adult mental health problems are common in Northern Ireland, but the fact is that many of these difficulties could be prevented or lessened by investing more in children’s mental health services,” she said.

Until recently only 5% of the mental health budget went to CAMH Services, even though people under 18 years of age make up over 25% of Northern Ireland’s population.

Moves are already under way to change this and only last month Minister for Health and Social Services, Paul Goggins, indicated that the Bamford Review would be a catalyst for change, for improvement, for modernisation in Northern Ireland.

More than 20% of young people are believed to suffer significant mental health problems by the age of 18.

For this reason, Ms Davren and her committee place particular importance on the development of partnerships between children’s mental health services and education providers.

“Mental health problems often appear at school,” she said. “Effective partnerships between schools and local healthcare providers would help to identify problems at an early stage.

“As a result, children with mental health problems would benefit from an holistic approach involving schools, parents and carers, health professional and the children themselves.”

The CAMH Report highlights groups particularly at risk.

These include those at risk of suicide and self-harm (22% of suicides are among people under 25), children with a learning disability, those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and children with feeding and eating disorders and alcohol and substance abusers.