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‘Too low’ targets for mental health fail young people

YOUNG people with mental health disorders are being let down by NHS treatment targets which are ‘not at all ambitious enough’, experts warned.

Adolescents and students are not more emotionally brittle than their parents but ‘more likely to talk about anxieties’, researchers said.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Rachel Upthegrove suggested health service ambitions to get 35 per cent of vulnerable youngsters into treatment by 2020/21 would be unacceptable in other areas.

Only 25 per cent of children and young people are receiving the treatment needed for diagnosable mental health conditions, NHS England figures from 2016 show.

Speaking at a Science Media Centre briefing, Dr Upthegrove, from the Institute for Mental Health at the University of Birmingham, said ‘equal focus’ had to be given to physical and mental health disorders.

‘I don’t think in any other branch of medicine would you expect that to be acceptable, that you intervene for one in three people with coronary heart disease or early diabetes. We have got a long way to go until we get real parity of esteem.’

Asked about ‘snowflake generation’ labels, Prof Matthew Broome, director of the Institute for Mental Health, insisted young people are ‘as tough-minded as any other generation’.

Birmingham university research claims an extra £1.77billion is needed to cope with the demand on mental health services for children and young people.

Claire Murdoch, national director of mental health at NHS England, said ‘improvement goals for young people for the next few years’ were set by patients, psychiatrists and the NHS’.