Young people have to attempt multiple suicides to receive mental health assistance

A new report by Look Ahead displays ‘harrowing’ mental health discoveries in young people who have to attempt suicide multiple times before receiving sufficient help.

Look Ahead Care and Support, a London-based organisation which offers specialist support to vulnerable individuals, conducted interviews with service users, parents and carers, and more than twenty NHS and social care staff across England, and have now laid bare the devastating state of mental health support for children and young people.

man holding brown rope

Their Findings draw on experiences of treating depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and attempts, eating disorders, addiction, and psychosis.

Launched this morning in the House of Lords, the report – funded by Wates Family Enterprise Trust and produced by experts Care Research – implies Accident and Emergency departments have become an ‘accidental hub’ for children and young people experiencing crisis but are ill-equipped to offer necessary treatment.

Against this backdrop, accounts from patients and experts indicate that young people suffering with their mental health are placed in unsuitable general paediatric wards alongside younger children.

The report highlights that 55% of the young people interviewed are looked after in the private health sector, but costs to receive care here were remarked to be ‘exceptionally high’.

Additionally, researchers uncovered that to save money, young people and children suffering with their mental health could be assisted within a specialised health and housing service which equates to 52% less than staying in hospital – costing £2K a week instead of £4.2K.

Experts from the organisation discovered the number of children and young people contacting mental health services rose by almost a third from 2020 to 2021. Data also displays families are increasingly relying on ambulance and police services to deliver mental health support – particularly on children aged 16-17.

woman sitting on black chair in front of glass-panel window with white curtains

Chief Executive oof Look Ahead, Chris Hampson, said: ‘The deep challenges in mental health care crisis provision for young people is setting up a ticking timebomb for mental health services in the future – as young people become vulnerable adults.

‘The NHS is doing all it can in impossible circumstances, but the result is a service that both costs more than it should and helps too few of those in crisis.’

Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, said: ‘The findings of this research are devastating and should serve as a wake-up call for the government on young people’s mental health.

‘The harrowing interviews in this report lay bare just how desperate young people and their families are for treatment, and that there is nowhere to turn unless they have reached crisis point – sometimes many times.

‘Expanding community support should be a no brainer; it’s better for young people in mental health crisis and would save money in the public purses.

‘Adopting this approach would be nothing short of a revolution in mental health care, saving thousands of people from ongoing ill-health in adulthood.’

Photo by Eva Blue and Anthony Tran


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