43% of GPs advise parents to seek private care for children in need of mental health services, according to survey

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7th January 2020 15:15 - Health

43% of GPs advise parents to seek private care for children in need of mental health services: A survey has revealed that more than 4 in 10 GPs have suggested to parents with children struggling with mental health problems that they seek private care. This is owing to overstretched NHS services being unable to provide adequate support. 

The survey, conducted by mental health charity Stem4 polled 994 regionally representative GP’s across the UK. The results highlight the pressures facing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) against increasing demands for its services.

The research found that 90% of the GPs polled said that mental health services for children and young people are inadequate.

The survey also revealed that despite GPs only referring the most in-need children and adolescents to CAMHS, more than half (54%) are rejected for treatment. More than a quarter of those accepted face a waiting list of between 3-6 months, while for 28% it is a wait of up to a year.  

When asked about their opinion on the current state of mental health services for children and young people almost three-quarters of the GPs polled said they felt it had become worse over the last 12 months, with 83% saying they had seen an increase in the number of patients coming to them experiencing anxiety. Eight in ten (79%) said they have seen an increase in children experiencing depression, while 64% have seen as increase in self-harm. More than a third (35%) said that they have seen more young people visit them because of eating disorders.

Just 6% of respondents polled said that they have seen a decrease in the number of 11-18 year-olds who are seeking their help.

Founder of Stem4 Dr Nihara Krause, who is also a consultant clinical psychologist, said:

"Parents whose child has cancer or a serious physical health condition would never have to pay for private care, so why should it be OK for those whose children have mental health problems to be told to do that? This again shows that the much-vaunted ‘parity of esteem’ between physical and mental health services is still a far-off goal.”

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