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Urgent need for more doctors and nurses to deal with youth mental health crisis, MP warns

PUBLISHED: 23:44 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:47 01 November 2018

Dr Dan Poulter. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Dr Dan Poulter. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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More workers on the ground are urgently needed to help cope with a growing crisis in mental health amongst young people, a member of parliament has warned.

Dr Dan Poulter, who himself works 25 hours a week as a mental health doctor, said spending extra money on the problem would not work “without the workforce on the ground to provide care”.

However the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP said there were “serious recruitment challenges” in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) which would make that goal hard to achieve.

Dr Poulter was speaking in a parliamentary debate about the future of mental health services, during which fellow MP Jeff Smith had said: “Child, adolescent and early adult mental health is a big and growing problem.”

Several charities and campaigners have warned that more youngsters are experiencing mental ill health, with the Mental Health Foundation saying about one in 10 children today are affected.

The House of Commons’ All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health has produced a report which investigates the issue, called Progress of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health: On the Road to Parity.

Dr Poulter said there had been a “commendable focus on increasing taking therapy” to help treat conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder.

He said dialectical behaviour therapy, where patients are encouraged to debate opposing views with someone else, are also effective when dealing with personality disorders.

But in the Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday, October 30, Dr Poulter said: “It is all very well talking about the aspiration of putting more money into mental health and expanding services, but improvement cannot be delivered without the workforce on the ground to provide care.”

That in itself though, he said, will not be easy to fix because of what he called “serious recruitment and retention challenges across the mental health workforce”.

He told Mr Smith: “If we are talking about the crisis with young people, there is a real problem attracting people into the CAMHS workforce, particularly to become CAMHS consultants and CAMHS psychiatrists.

“That is an issue that the report picks up in great detail, but I hope he will join me in urging the government to address this as a matter of urgency.”

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