Despite one of the highest levels of public child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Europe, the UK has one of the lowest levels of inpatient beds available for this group, new research has found.
A study led by the University of Warwick looked at mental health service provision for children in 28 countries across the continent.
It found that the UK has 939 public CAMHS, by far the highest number of any of the countries in the study, with the second highest in Germany at 537.
However, the UK lags behind when it comes to the number of inpatient beds With just 9.4 beds per 100,000 young people, it ranks 18th of of the 28 countries in the study.
This does not compare favourably to other countries. Germany does, for example, have 64 and the Netherlands 56.
The number of beds available for children and young people with mental health problems in the UK is, however, far higher than in Sweden.
Coming in at the bottom of the list, Sweden makes just 1.2 beds available for CAMHS service per 100,000 young people.
The research also highlighted gaps in the system when children and young people transition from CAMHS to mental health services for adults.
Researchers said that while many make the transition without any issues, the provision of services is in many other case disrupted, resulting in a gap in the access to the help patients needs.
Warwick Medical School Professor Swaran Singh, project coordinator for the Milestone project, of which the research forms part, said:
‘With around a tenth of young people likely to experience mental health issues, it’s a matter of concern that the approach to child mental health varies so dramatically across Europe. Our youth deserve better mental health care than they currently receive.’
An investigation by the Children’s Commissioner earlier this month found that children with low-level mental conditions, such as depression and anxiety, don’t always get the help they need due to budget cuts.
Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield said that while the Government has made more money available for children’s mental health, the system was not functioning adequately.