New figures suggest that 10% of children and young people in Jersey have a mental health problem, which is higher than most areas of England, with low self-esteem being a particular problem.
According to the first Mental Health Quality Report, 415 children and young people were treated by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in 2016. The report, which was released as part of an 'Engagement Day' attended by 120 professionals, also shows 75% of mental health problems for adults start before the age of 18.
It will be used as a starting point by the Health and Social Services Department for future improvements as it "...gives a very clear picture of where the services are and helps to focus on areas we need to improve," according to Senator Andrew Green, Minister for Health and Social Services. During the talks between professionals, it appeared that one of those areas was the care delivered to the younger members of the population.
The report showed that one in ten children and young people have a mental health problem, a third of which will require specialist care, and that the percentage of 14-15 year olds with medium-high self-esteem has been decreasing since 2006.
Andrew Heaven, Deputy Director of Commissioning, explained: "Some of the discussions were about children and young people and how we can support them more, particularly around early intervention to make sure they are not waiting too long. We are putting specialist children services into some schools so that when there is an issue we can respond quite quickly. Hopefully, it will help nip the problem in the bud and help us work with families sooner rather than latter."
Starting from the summer term, two CAHMS workers will be based in the Education Department support teams while a total of 75 school-based staff are set to receive a 3-day mental health training course. A system is also being developed within the Department to record bullying incidents in schools.
The Health Minister explained that following this report, a number of reviews will be conducted in "...areas that we think we should be doing better at, whether there are gaps in service, or processes that add nothing to the benefit of patients and carers." He explained he would like to see "...a greater emphasis on families, which are part of the solution for patients with mental health issues" and a shorter waiting time for Jersey Talking Therapies. In 2016, 81% of patients referred to JTT entered treatment at 18 weeks, it is hoped that by 2018, 75% of people will being treatment within six weeks.
He also reasserted his Department's commitment to mental health. "It is an important part of what I stood for, we don't get it right all the time but we work very hard to support people in moments of crisis. It is a priority, we spend £7.5 millions in improving services, we need to make sure it is spent effectively and if not, identify how we can spend it differently."
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