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“Are we letting our young people down?” asks Tring’s County Councillor Nick Hollinghurst

December 5, 2018 8:36 AM

youth mental healthLast March, Councillors were concerned by the figures in a presentation on Under-18 Mental Health Hospital Admissions. The figures for Children and Young People where mental health issues were a primary cause, showed a statistically significant rise between 2015/16 and projections for 2017/18.

Moreover, there was a steady rise in inappropriate admissions to acute hospitals - as distinct from specialist mental health hospitals where more appropriate care and treatment are available.

Councillors heard that no single factor seemed to explain why increasing numbers of young people were being admitted to hospital with mental illness problems.

Factors that did appear related to these increases were:

  • more mental issues in society;
  • a greater awareness of such issues;
  • families becoming more ready to take the young person to hospital - especially to A&E.

One serious problem emerged, namely that 50% of emergency admissions to acute hospitals remain unknown to the mental health care and treatment system.

Councillors suggested:

  • more Tier 4 beds should be provided in specialist mental health hospitals;
  • more help and guidance for parents was needed since childhood trauma was often at the root of mental health problems in young people;
  • financial and social inequalities and racial issues;
  • GP behaviour towards these problems;
  • increases in referral times in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health services - particularly if the young person was not already receiving counselling and was in crisis.

Nick Hollinghurst commented "I believe we are letting our young people down. In a world of ever greater stress and uncertainty, with growing inequality and with young people under so much pressure to compete, it's not surprising that more of them are being damaged.

"Now free from restraints of having to work in a coalition, the Tory Government has cut public services thoughtlessly and recklessly.

"From policing to public health, from schools to social services, from youth services to Family Centres to psychological services, the safety nets of our society are being allowed to fray and tear.

Social networks are being broken down by a state which has lost sight of its duty of care towards its citizens."

He continued, "We need to rebuild and we need to do it fast. We must find a way to tap into the vast wealth of the mega corporations and into the grotesque pay packets of the super rich to repair our institutions and our social infrastructure.

"We must get back to a society which cares for its young, which helps the unfortunate back to their feet and which seeks to give a sure start in life to children and adolescents - by preventing early years trauma, helping those that need help and bringing all safely through to adulthood able to enjoy life and bring up the next generation in their turn."