An appeal for better mental health services for children and young people

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Poverty in children often linked to poor mental health
“Poverty: ‘Damaged Child,’ Oklahoma City, OK, USA, 1936.” by Kelly Short6 is marked with CC PDM 1.0

We have set up a petition calling for Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust (SPFT) to provide better mental health services for children and young people in this area.  As the trust is currently planning to build a new inpatient unit we are calling for that unit to provide for children. The trust is building the new unit to replace the building they currently occupy in the grounds of Eastbourne’s DGH.  But although they have promised no overall reduction in bed numbers, they have also said the new unit will not incorporate a CAMHS.

Background information about the need for better services for children and young people

Nationally, CAMHS has fallen behind the rest of the mental health services. We have heard numerous reports of young people being sent hundreds of miles from their homes for treatment.  This practice is simply abusive to young people and their families.  Sussex Partnership must listen to professionals who care for children, and the parents who believe we need a local inpatient CAMHS.

Mental health services have been the Cinderella service within the NHS for far too long.  Children and young people now experience the worst aspects of the Cinderella service.  But 50% of the people who go onto develop mental health problems, will be displaying  symptoms by age 14.   To leave young people with substandard treatment until they go into adult services is counterproductive. Mental health problems cause physical, social and psychological damage and will only get harder to treat if left without an appropriate intervention.

Mental health problems have become epidemic amongst the children and young people who have been living through this pandemic.  The lack of education and social interaction coupled with stresses at home have been extremely damaging. The Children’s Society has reported that five children out of a classroom of 30 are likely to have mental health problems. Since 2010, we have also witnessed more children living in poverty. This poverty will contribute towards greater mental health problems in our children. It is appalling to think that 1/3 of Eastbourne’s children are now living in poverty.

One NHS unit for CAMHS in Sussex is not enough

So how can we accept our mental health trust running just one inpatient unit for children and young people in Sussex?  The Priory Hospital in Ticehurst has closed down their CAMHS recently.  But, Sussex Partnership have told me they have no proposals to replace that unit as: “It was commissioned by NHS England.”

What we are asking the public to do

As a community we must insist that the new unit provides for children and young people. Please help us by writing to the Trust’s CEO Sam Allen and expressing your concern. Nationally 70% of children and young people with mental health problems have not had an appropriate intervention at a sufficiently early age. So please, sign our petition and share it with your contacts.

Time to invest in our futures

For every £1 invested in the health of the nation the wealth of the nation will grow between £2 – £4. The truth is that we cannot afford to not invest in health. But our children are also our future. Any investment in their mental health is an investment in our future. School children have led the way in making us pay attention to the climate crisis. They are suffering immeasurably by our failure to build them a better country with a more secure future. So, let’s not leave it to the children to fight for better mental health services.

Please make your voice heard today.

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