New figures show one in eight of five to 19-year-olds in Peterborough have at least one mental illness, city councillors were told.
A new report shows that as many as 13 per cent of Peterborough’s youngsters had as least one mental illness when they were assessed in 2017.
Members of Peterborough City Council’s Children & Education Scrutiny Committee were given the statistic by Catheryn Goose, senior commissioning manager for NHS Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at their meeting last week.
Ms Goose said: “The report clearly highlights the issues of children and young person’s mental health awareness in Peterborough, and the challenges posed in provision for them, and the management of a problem which is on the increase.”
Cllr Graham Casey (Conservative, Orton Longueville) asked: “Why is there such an increase in mental health issues among our children and young persons, and is there any research being carried out anywhere to establish why these effects are happening and what can be done directly to alleviate the problem?”
Ms Goose answered: “To my knowledge there is no direct research being carried out at this time which is looking at the reasons why the mental health issues in your people are increasing at the rate that they are; but, yes, there are several study groups looking at how to tackle the problem – but they require considerable funding.”
In the report, specific mental disorders are grouped into four broad categories: emotional, behavioural, hyperactivity and other less common disorders. The data clearly reveals an increase in the prevalence of mental disorders in five to 15-year-olds, rising from 9.7 per cent in 1999, to 11.2 per cent in 2017. Emotional disorders have also become more common, going from 4.3 per cent in 1999, to 5.8 per cent in 2017.
Ms Goose went on to explain about CHUMS, a nationwide project that commenced in January 2018 through joint commissioning between Peterborough City Council Cambridgeshire County Council.
However, CHUMS only provides support for five to 18-year-olds in Peterborough, while in Cambridge support is given up to 25 years of age, something Cllr Mohammed Farooq (Conservative, Hargate and Hempsted) questioned.
Ms Goose responded: “I really don’t know why there is a disparity, other than historically it has always been that way.”
She added: “There are no current plans that I know of to raise the coverage age for Peterborough to match that in Cambridge.
“The CHUMS programme does provide a range of services including self-help, advice and information, signposting to more appropriate services if necessary, Mental Health Resiliency Workshops, a Schools Integration Project (SIP) and training consultation delivered half-termly to school staff on the early detection of emerging mental health problems in pupils.
“There is also a post-intervention self-management support app for young people who self-harm. CHUMS also have access to a bus, which can be taken to locations across the county for one off days/sessions on request, although this has been primarily focused on the rural areas in Fenland.
“As an area we have invested £740,000 into this contract with £240,000 coming from NHS transformation funds, and as of September 2018 we have received 2,907 referrals – of which 2,034 are active open cases.”
Cllr Darren Fower (Labour, Gunthorpe) was less than pleased with what he had heard or read: “I’ve looked this report over from start to finish and the data upon which much of your conclusions rely upon was compiled as far back as 2004. I am frankly shocked and disturbed that something as important as the mental health care or our children and young persons is being managed by staff using data that is 14 years out of date. No wonder the provision for these people is causing so much concern.”
Ms Goose said she had no idea why the underlining data was so old, but pointed out that the assessment data in the report was accurate to 2017.
Councillors were pleased to hear that in general there have been significant improvements and investments in mental health services for children and young people.
Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service