Government proposes maximum waiting time for children to receive mental health treatment

Children with mental health problems will be “guaranteed” treatment within four weeks, according to a leaked Government report.

Revealed by the Guardian newspaper, the report says, however, that the improvements cannot be rolled out until at least 2021 as it does not have the staff or funding to do so.

Earlier this year, it was reported that some children are having to wait up to 18 months to receive adequate care after they were first referred to a professional.

Commenting on the report, Jo Hardy, the head of parent services at Young Minds, said: “Improvements have been happening in some areas, but we regularly hear from parents who can’t get a referral, with their GP telling them to seek a referral via their school and vice versa. We also hear from parents who have been waiting for months for an initial assessment, and whose children’s conditions have got worse during that time.

“Some parents tell us that their children have started to self-harm during the wait or that they’ve dropped out of school, which not only has a big impact on their own education, but also means that one of the parents has to give up their job to look after them.

“We hear from parents who’ve separated because of the pressure the wait is putting on the whole family, or who talk about the damaging effect it’s having on their other children.”

Speaking to the Guardian, Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ child and adolescent faculty, said the four-week waiting time would be “welcome”, but healthcare professionals should ensure that meeting the deadline should not compromise the child’s level of care.

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