Suicide tragedies of young people who fell through cracks in mental health services

Picture by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.
Picture by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.
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Some young people in Leeds have fallen through the cracks between child and adult mental health services, and taken their own lives.

The issues encountered by young people in the transition to adult services was revealed in a report of Leeds City Council’s health scrutiny board inquiry into provision for children and young people yesterday.

It also described current waiting times for some services as “wholly unacceptable” and said service users “described feelings of abandonment” while waiting for initial consultations.

The board’s report also stated despite planned improvement action by the Integrated Commissioning Executive (ICE), which represents senior NHS commissioners in Leeds, “services are unlikely to fully meet demand in the city”.

Coun Debra Coupar, scrunity board chair, said: “Mental health provision in this city has been woefully inadequate and that’s been made clear in this report. We hope that by implementing these recommendations things will change for the children in this city.”

Recommendations include creating a clearer transition for young service users into adult mental health provision, a ‘check-in’ system for those referred who are yet to have their first consultation and a plea to ensure drop-in facilities like the Market Place, in New Market Street, remain. It is thought that 16,800 Leeds youths are experiencing mental health problems.

The 12-month inquiry has already heard that referrals of people who are aged 17 plus and self harming have increased 184 per cent to 367 since 2012, while the average wait to be assessed for autistic disorders hit 20.5 weeks in December 2014.

The report stated: “It is unacceptable that some children and young people in Leeds have ended up in a position where suicide has been seen as the solution to the difficulties they were facing.”

ICE approved 11 recommendations, which the board report described as “a step in the right direction”, to improve Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and targeted school-based services in Leeds in March.

They promoted ideas such as better links between stakeholders, a single point of access for GP referrals and digital support for patients. NHS commissioners are set to invest around £360,000 in 2015/16 to tackle autism assessment waiting times.