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Calls To Boost Child Therapists

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 Calls To Boost Child Therapists

According to a BBC report (04 05 09), children’s mental health services are in need of an additional 1,000 therapists in order to cope with the levels of demand as indicated by an influential government adviser.

Indeed Lord Layard, whose advice prompted a recent £173m investment in adult therapists, said training of child specialists should start in 2010. It is estimated that within a three year process, his proposals may cost in excess of £35m.The department of health will be attending a meeting with Lord Layard to discuss his proposals.

Nothwistanding experts have welcomed the news suggesting that early intervention could prevent long term problems in later life. Furthermore it is argue that as many as 10% of children experience diagnosable mental health problems, said Lord Layard, however, only a quarter of them have seen a mental health professional of any kind in the past year.

This “unsatisfactory” state of affairs has serious long-term consequences, he said in his report. To address the shortfall, 200 child therapists need to be trained every year for five years, he has calculated. The additional workforce could be drawn from those who already have experience working with distressed children, moreover, any additional costs incurred are understood to be relatively small in comparison to the National Health Service budget for mental health (£9.1bn in 2006/7).

“We urge that this proposal be approved within the forthcoming comprehensive spending review and started, if possible, in October 2010,” the report concludes. Essentially it was the recommendations from Lord Maynard that prompted the government to invest heavily in psychological therapists for adults after he calculated the cost saving through people returning to work.

Dr Tim Kendall, joint chairman of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, said the investment in children’s therapists was long overdue. “I did a series of systematic reviews of cognitive behaviour therapy for all childhood disorders including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and there’s no doubt that it is really useful and has a positive effect for kids,” he said.

An expert in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Leeds, Professor David Cottrell, has suggested that there was also evidence emerging that parental training programmes were effective in helping children with some mental health issues. One problem with child and adolescent mental health services is often the expenditure is in the health service but the savings are in other services such as education or the police and youth offending.”

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Young Minds Charity, Sarah Brennan, said a transformation in children’s services was required. “The call for training in proper mental health assessments is essential,” she said. “We often hear from young people of the trauma associated with repeated assessments. In three weeks one young person saw 17 different mental health professionals, all of whom she to had to retell her story.”

“The costs outlined in Layard’s recommendations are a fraction of the NHS mental health budget and would be more than repaid in savings in future care and social costs.”

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