Action needed to stop children’s mental health issues ‘escalating’ in Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes Council
Milton Keynes Council

A hard hitting report has identified a range of actions that need to be taken to stop mental health issues among children and young people from “escalating” in Milton Keynes.

Milton Keynes Council’s public health department has found that there are no mental health inpatient beds for children or young people in the city, Bedfordshire, or Luton, and that specialist services are struggling to cope with demand.

Some 39 per cent of referrals received by child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the last 12 months were not accepted, councillors are set to hear at a meeting of MK’s Health and Wellbeing Board, tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb 6)

Emmeline Watkins, deputy director of public health in Milton Keynes, said in her report to councillors: “There is no system wide approach to the lower tier support that is required to prevent need from escalating and increasing demand on services.”

She also says that there is a need to train primary care and non mental health staff around children’s mental health.

The community also has a role. “Schools, parents and the wider community are key to supporting child mental health and wellbeing and will need to be appropriately supported to do this.”

Action is also needed to help adults. The report states there are also issues around access to support services for adults who have “intermittent needs or those who do not meet threshold of mental health support and there isn’t access to 24 hour crisis care for adults.”

A comment from Healthwatch Milton Keynes was reported, too: “In 2018–19 , all the experiences received from the public regarding mental health provision were all themed around negative experiences of access to therapy. ”

Councillors are being recommended to agree to holding a future board meeting to decide “action on how the system can best prevent need from escalating and increasing demand on services.”

They are also being asked to “strengthen and accelerate the integrated approach to mental health,” and to “consult within the community on the support needed to tackle social isolation and loneliness and the barriers to accessing this support.”

The report also put the spotlight on many successes, including that 80 per cent of schools in MK now have both a governor and school lead for

mental health. There are also “innovative approaches to supporting better mental health” which include ‘mindfulness mornings” at schools.

Last year 70 rough sleepers received support, including for their mental health. The report states that “only one person” returned to rough sleeping.