Brent Centre for Young People challenges government Green Paper on child mental health

Dr Maxim de Sauma, ceo of Brent Centre for Young People

Dr Maxim de Sauma, ceo of Brent Centre for Young People - Credit: Archant

A groundbreaking mental health centre for Brent teenagers has attacked the government’s planned shakeup of the sector.

Brent Centre for Young People, in Winchester Avenue, Brondesbury Park, has steered thousands of young people aged eight to 24 from the brink of suicide – but now fears for the future of their young charges.

A consultation on the government’s Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision paper closed on March 2.

It suggests the “innovative training” of staff in schools to recognise problems arising in pupils.

But the Brent Centre fears this will mean some kids will only be dealt with at school by people with limited training, and denied access to long-term specialist psychotherapy like their own.

In his letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt MP and education secretary Damian Hinds, the centre’s chief exec Maxim de Sauma said the proven effectiveness of psychotherapy is being ignored in the report.

Mr de Sauma told the Times the centre government is too focused on spending money on new innovations whilst slashing support for front-line services.

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BCYP has seen massive reductions in funding while referrals to take on vulnerable teens have doubled in the past year.

The NHS, GPs and the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are all under pressure and whoever they are forced to turn away is sent directly to the Brent Centre.

Staff there deal with the spectrum of young people that fall in between “mild depression and anxiety” to borderline clinical cases.

Work is carried out on preventing mental health relapses and breakdowns that teenagers otherwise risk carrying into adulthood.

The charity offers its own treatment for young people – “adolescent exploratory therapy”, which it says results in a 100 per cent reduction in suicide attempts and an 80pc improvement in suicidal thoughts.

None of this has been taken into account, he said. “The government’s Green Paper is too focused on quick-fix solutions at the expense of tried-and-tested solutions that are already proven to work.

“We would like to see the focus returned to where the services are most needed and supporting those services now.”