Councillor Graham Butland, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, has welcomed a report by the House of Commons Education Select Committee into the mental health and wellbeing services provided to looked-after children.
The report, for which Essex County Council provided written and oral evidence, found that almost half of children in care have a diagnosable mental health disorder, with looked-after children four times more likely than their non-looked after peers to have a mental health condition.
Despite this, looked-after children can face significant challenges in accessing mental health support.
The report made a number of recommendations including:
- 1. Looked-after children should have priority access to mental health assessments by specialist practitioners.
2. Access to Children’s and Adolescents’ Mental Health Services (CAMHS) should be made available to young people beyond the age of 18 (up to 25), where this is appropriate.
3. Where possible, education, health and social care should work in partnership to provide seamless and joined up support for vulnerable children.
4. More support should be given to schools to ensure that teachers and schools are better equipped to identify, assess and support children and young people with mental health difficulties.
Councillor Butland said: “I very much welcome the recommendations of this report which I believe will make a real difference to children in care. I hope that ministers take on board the committee’s recommendations. I would also like to extend an invitation to the Education Committee to come down to Essex and see some of the pioneering work around children’s mental health and wellbeing that is being implemented here.”
In January this year, the Essex, Southend and Thurrock Collaborative Forum for CAMHS launched Open Up, Reach Out – a transformation plan for the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.
Over the next five years, it will improve access and equality in children’s mental health, making it easier to get help from ‘one service’ by working together with the NHS and all local authorities across Essex and by building resilience in the community.
Wherever you live in Essex, whether you are a young person, teacher or parent, you will be able to access the same service.
There will be an additional £3 million invested in the local system for emotional wellbeing and mental health from early help through to extra support for those with acute mental health needs.