Michael Dugher MP

Working hard for Barnsley East

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Time for action - not words - when it comes to tackling mental health

This article appeared as a column in the Barnsley Chronicle on Friday 3rd March 2017.

Theresa May and her minsters have talked a lot about improving mental health services. But so far that’s all it is – talk. 

Away from the world of fanfare Government speeches and 'announcements' that turn out to be just more vague promises stuck on repeat, the reality is very different.

New figures from Barnsley Child and Adult Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provide a stark illustration of the problem, particularly among young people.  

A shocking 465 children waited for anything up to 18 weeks for treatment - that's four months - according to Barnsley CAMHS. Some 13 children in Barnsley had to wait longer than 30 weeks. 

Of those treated from the start of April 2016 to the end of June 2016, three out of four young people waited more than 12 weeks for treatment.  That is simply not good enough.

Mental health charities do some fantastic work, but what they do is hamstrung by the Government’s failure to follow up their promises on mental health with more cash. 

Funding has fallen by eight per cent over the last Parliament. There are now over 6,000 fewer mental health nurses than there were in 2010 and many patients can’t get mental health care close to their home.

When it comes to children’s mental health, one in ten has a diagnosable condition.  Children with behavioural disorders are four times more likely to be drug dependent, six times more likely to die before the age of thirty and twenty times more likely to end up prison.

Charities like CLIC Sargent do fantastic work helping young cancer patients who are among those who could suffer mental health problems as they undergo treatment. They want the Government to do more to help schools assist children with mental health issues, including young cancer patients, which is a good idea.

Mental health should not be a party political issue.  But we do need action, not words, when it comes to improving mental healthcare for everyone in our society - and that includes our young people.

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