About our Looked After Minds campaign
Mental health matters to care-experienced children and young people. It is consistently raised as one of the key priorities from young people themselves, but their calls for action are not being taken seriously enough and they are often left waiting for the support they need.
The risks of poor mental health faced by care-experienced children and young people are significantly greater than their peers. We need to move away from a mental health system that requires its patients to be in crisis, towards one that is truly proactive: advocating on behalf of care-experienced children and young people; supporting them through crucial times such as entering adulthood; addressing trauma at the earliest opportunity; and striving for childhoods that are full of positive experiences and love.
Did you know?
- Children in care are four times more likely to have a mental health difficulty, which in many cases is attributed to isolation and loneliness.
- An estimated three quarters of children raised in local authority residential homes meet the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis.
- 50% of mental health problems (excluding dementia) start before 15 years of age, and 75% before 18.
- Nine out of ten children who have been abused or neglected at a young age will develop a mental health problem by the age of 18.
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) make up less than 1% of the NHS budget.
- 65% of young people who have a mental health need are not currently receiving any statutory service support.
- Stability can be vital to mental health, but in the last two years only 1 in 6 children in care experienced no change of home, school or social worker.
What we want to happen
NYAS’ Looked After Minds campaign is calling for the Governments in England and Wales to take urgent action to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced children and young people.
NYAS Cymru recommended to Welsh Government that they ‘pause’ all transitions from CAMHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was agreed, and correspondence was sent from Welsh Government to Local Health Boards. We felt that this transition is a risky and sometimes mismanaged period even in normal times, and are delighted that this policy decision will protect mental health and could save lives.
The principles of our Looked after Minds report :
- All children and young people have the right to have their voices heard in decisions made about them, including when understanding and navigating mental health services.
- When care-experienced children grow up, they continue to deserve the best possible protection and support for their mental health and wellbeing.
- Every opportunity must be taken to address and minimise the impact of traumatic experiences on the mental health and wellbeing of care-experienced children and young people.
- Everyone must have the opportunity to enjoy their childhood, not just survive it. We must build resilient networks and strive to enable positive experiences for care-experienced children and young people.
The report recommends what action is needed. NYAS’ message to all care-experienced people is that the Looked After Minds campaign hears you, and we will not stop working together to improve mental health and wellbeing policies.