99% of GP’s fear that young patients will come to harm while waiting for mental health treatment

A recent study by stem4, a charity that supports teenagers through mental illness, has revealed that 99% of GPs fear that young patients will come to harm while on the waiting list for mental health services.

Stem4 surveyed 1,000 GPs and had the following responses:

  • 90% said that mental health services for children & young people are inadequate
  • 99% feared that these young people may come to harm while waiting to access treatment
  • 88% said it’s impossible or very difficult to access treatment for anxiety.

GPs commenting on the results said:

“Suicide amongst young patients appears to be on the increase. We need to have better resources to support them and their parents.”

“There is a complete disintegration of service provision. Patients often come to see their GP as no other services are available. I feel I should refer to CAMHS, but often do this being aware that the response they will get will be minimal, inadequate, or even rejected.”

“As a GP I have personal experience of the harm coming to 11-18 year-olds due to grossly inadequate mental health services. It is a disgrace and politicians are to blame. They come out with fine words but never follow with action or funding to provide care for these vulnerable patients.”

“CAMHS have not expanded their remit to see kids with mental health problems, although they still have the nerve to say ‘providing care 0-19’. Won’t see pre-school children or those over 16.”

Further statistics suggest that 90% of GP’s are seeing more young patients with mental health problems than two years ago, while two-thirds (64%) say they find it hard to give these young patients the time they need.  Over the last two years:

  • 9 out of 10 (86%) had seen a rise in the number of patients aged 11-18 suffering with anxiety
  • 8 in 10 (81%) had seen an increase in young patients with depression
  • 7 in 10 (68%) were seeing more young patients self-harming
  • Doctors had also witnessed an increase over the last two years in such mental health conditions as conduct disorders (54%), addiction (38%) and eating disorders (38%).

90% of GPs describe mental health services for children and young people as either extremely inadequate (37%) or very inadequate (53%). 82% said that services for the treatment of anxiety were the most inadequate; this was followed by depression (80%), self-harm (79%), conduct disorders (75%), eating disorders (69%), and addiction (67%).

When it came to help for anxiety problems, 88% of doctors said it was either impossible or very difficult for their patients to access treatment.

You can see more results from stem4’s study here: https://stem4.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/FINAL-PRESS-RELEASE-Stem4-GP-survey-CYP-MH-18-12-18-PL.pdf