Young people with acute mental health problems are suffering from a woeful lack of appropriate provision, a charity has warned.
The comments by YoungMinds follow a recent report that said police have been detaining people in custody because there is nowhere else readily available for them to go.
The study by the Care Quality Commission, published in January, found that in one area 41 young people were detained in police cells over the previous year, with the youngest being 11, which was unacceptable.
“Young people are growing up in a world where they are under a lot of pressure”
Lucie Russell, director of campaigns for YoungMinds, which seeks to improve the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people, said: “There have been a number of shocking stories recently about young people and their families having to travel hundreds of miles to get an inpatient bed and of young people in adult wards and also being held in police cells.
“None of this is the way we should be treating extremely vulnerable children and young people whose own suffering and those of their families will just increase as a result of this woeful lack of appropriate provision.
“The government are currently conducting two reviews of child and adolescent mental health services and we very much hope these reviews do not end up gathering dust but lead to real changes and improvements on the ground for young people with mental health problems.
“What is key though is that early intervention services like counselling services when a young person first starts suffering do not continue to be cut because this just leads to their problems escalating and becoming much more serious and entrenched.
“Young people are growing up in a world where they are under a lot of pressure and so we must also ensure we build the resilience of all young people so that they are able to cope with adversity so we don’t end up with more young people enduring such suffering that they end up in inpatient care.”
“We are saying they should not use us as a soft option when they are looking for money for something else”
Professor Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said cuts and the fear of more cuts were bringing mental health services towards a “tipping point”.
She said: “If organisations have pressure on them, and are told to cut, finance becomes a bigger driver than care and compassion − and that’s when things start to go wrong.
“We are not asking for more than our fair share. We are saying they should not use us as a soft option when they are looking for money for something else,” she said.
“Our work can also help with people’s physical problems - for example, heart and other conditions often have anxiety as a cause.”
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