Funding cuts in children’s mental health care have driven many young people into feigning suicide to get attention from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
TES reports claim that because CAMHS have stretched their budget so stringently the thresholds for mental health treatment are impossibly high for young people. Many of them feel they are not getting the attention they need and must take drastic action to prove that they are mentally unstable enough in order to be seen by a professional.
Head of a secondary school in South-West England Rebecca Beaty has said that three people in her school have made suicide attempts in order to gain access to professional help.
“It wasn’t that people weren’t listening to them – people had put in referrals to Camhs. But the threshold for getting some kind of help is very difficult. Camhs can only deal with the most acute cases.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who genuinely wanted to end it all. They wanted to get help, and the only way they could explain that was through their actions.”
Jeremy Hunt has been reported to have said that the NHS’s biggest failing is in the area of child’s mental health services. In an interview with The Guardian Hunt said that services need to intervene sooner in order to stop the 1 in 10 5-16 year olds who have a mental disability from developing more serious conditions later on in life.
From numerous case studies subjected by the Children’s Commissioner it seems that the area in most need of attention is the waiting list. Their documentation suggests that children systematically diagnose themselves mentally stable if they are forced to wait for long periods of time for help, and then are in danger of lapsing into more serious depression and suicidal thoughts after those earlier destructive thoughts have been allowed to manifest.
The same study from 2015 found that only 14% of cases are put through to an advisor of the service directly whereas 58% went on the waiting list which can last up to 200 days. 28% were declined assistance based on their initial assessment.
Heather Dickinson, a spokeswoman for the charity Papyrus aimed at teen-suicide prevention has highlighted the exclusiveness of the system in place to help young people overcome mental disorders. Dickinson claims that even if a suicide attempt is made, there is no guarantee that a suicidal child will be seen by a mental health professional.
“We’ve had lots of concerned parents calling us, saying that young people have made suicide attempts, and sometimes are coming home from hospital and they still can’t get access to Camhs.”
Head of NHS England Simon Stevens has said more recently that even if the government keeps its word and delivers the £1.25b that they have pledged to aid young people’s mental health, CAMHS could still only see 1 in 3 young people suffering from mental disorders.