Thousands of troubled Leeds youths ‘not getting the mental health help they need quick enough’

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Thousands of vulnerable young Leeds people who are troubled by mental health problems are still facing long waiting times and issues getting help.

NHS commissioners and Leeds City Council officials yesterday updated the authority’s health scrutiny board over their work to address the shortfalls of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

A new report from Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (LCH), which delivers some of the services, warns that 16,800 young people in Leeds are thought to be experiencing mental health problems.

Worrying statistics include the fact 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.

Despite bosses being faced with making over £900,000 of CAMHS savings, Dr Jane Mischenko, Leeds’s NHS commissioning lead for children’s services, said an ongoing review of the service has seen fresh funds committed to protect it.

“We aren’t waiting for the review and the report to be completed before taking action,” she said. “We are already starting to address some of the aspects that are worrying such as waiting times – there’s additional investment to bring down some of the autism issues for example.”

A Healthwatch Leeds and Young Minds report also suggested a gap in provision between the service and school-based help, while warning the threshold to be seen by CAMHS was too high. A report on the redesign of the system is due in March.