Wendy Burn of the Royal College of Psychiatrists says we must boost the numbers of child and adolescent psychiatrists; while Cathy Street and Dinah Morley say society needs to do more to acknowledge the challenges facing mixed-race youngsters
It is very disappointing news that the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists has fallen almost 7% since 2013 (Number of NHS psychiatrists for children falling, 25 September) in the same year that the government pledged “focused action” to improve mental health support to help “our youngest and most vulnerable members of society receive the best start in life”. The government has pledged 100 more child and adolescent psychiatrists to help meet their target of treating 35% of children and young people with mental illness – which in itself is just the tip of the iceberg. The only way we can begin to tackle this unmet need is by persuading more trainee doctors to choose psychiatry. The government is trying to make it as easy as possible for trainee doctors to choose a career in child and adolescent psychiatry.
We are working closely with Health Education England to devise a range of measures aimed at boosting staff numbers. One example is a new training pathway that makes it easier for trainee psychiatrists who know they want to work with children to choose this speciality at the start of their training. The government acknowledges that half of all mental health conditions become established in people before the age of 14. Failing to value children and young people’s needs now risks leading to more long-term, costly problems in the future.
Professor Wendy Burn
President, Royal College of Psychiatrists
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