Improving the Whole Children and Young People’s Mental Health System

Improving the Whole Children and Young People’s Mental Health System

  • 25 November 2016
  • Posted in: Healthcare

There is a widely acknowledged crisis in both the psychological wellbeing of our children and young people and in the services that are trying to help them.

Demand for these services far outstrips capacity. Current services are overstretched and fragmented, which leads to complex referral systems, long waiting times and young people falling through the net. There are also great inequalities that result in the most vulnerable people being further disadvantaged. Whilst we must have high-quality care available for the children and young people who are experiencing significant distress, we must also look to what can be done to reduce the numbers in need of such help. Currently the limited resources are concentrated on providing help when problems have already arisen and even within those services, like CAMHS, it is focused on the more severe and complex difficulties.

The British Psychological Society has recently published the fourth edition of ‘The Child and Family Clinical Psychology Review’ to share best practice in psychological services for children and families.

This edition ‘What good could look like in integrated psychological services for children, young people and their families: Preliminary guidance and examples of practice’ focuses on delivering child mental health services in a more integrated, cost-effective and efficient way to deliver whole system improvement. All the papers in it are co-written by mental health practitioners and commissioners and have involved Young Activists at YoungMinds.article-image

The publication argues the need to reduce demand by actively working to keeping children psychologically healthy and tackling the risk factors which lead to mental health problems. This requires a whole-system approach that considers the ways in which society can support families and promote the healthy psychological development of our children and young people and intervene early when difficulties start to arise. It can be achieved by investing in primary prevention, including community psychology, health promotion and early intervention.

It sets out the case to increase capacity in the system and to change our understanding of what ‘mental health interventions’ are and how they can be delivered. Investment in the workforce is required to build capacity and enable greater flexibility and innovation in the way psychological interventions are delivered. There is much to be gained by additional training for all those who work with children and young people and we should be actively engaging young people and families in helping others as well as themselves.

Integration of services is a key to making all parts of the system work better. It means a unified, holistic system where services are delivered by organisations working in partnership, with shared vision and values, infrastructure and resources, thus removing duplication and revealing where gaps need to be filled. The benefit to the child or young person is integrated pathways that enable seamless access to different interventions.

This can be achieved across:
• Physical and mental health
• Community and specialist
• Different agencies
• Traditional age barriers
• And finally across the whole system

The papers discuss the key issues backed by data and research evidence and give examples of what is already being done across the country, with links to useful resources to help move the debate from the theory to the practice.

The publication will be of interest to anyone who wants to improve children and young peoples mental health particularly commissioners, clinical network leads, service managers and lead clinicians. It can be downloaded free from :,%20Young%20People%20and%20their%20Families/public/CFCPR%204%20web.pdf

This publication builds on “What good looks like in psychological services for children, young people and their families” published in 2015 and free to download from:,%20Young%20People%20and%20their%20Families/public/cfcpr_3.pdf

Free hard copies are available at the conference from the BPS stand and can be ordered from

Article by Julia Faulconbridge CPsychol  AFBPsS, Consultant Clinical Psychologist (Children, Young People and Families), British Psychological Society, Division of Clinical Psychology Child Lead, Past Chair, Faculty for Children, Young People and their Families, British Psychological Society, Division of Clinical Psychology.

To hear more about The British Psychological Society and the work they are doing, join us at Children and Young People’s Mental Health: Promoting Integration and Early Intervention on December 8th at Manchester Conference Centre. 

  • mental health
  • better health outcomes
  • health and social care
  • health and wellbeing
  • physical health
  • public health
  • transforming health
  • improving health outcomes.