Target: Jeremy Hunt, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Health
Goal: Increase funding and enhance accessibility for children’s mental health care in the United Kingdom.
Approximately 28 percent of children who were referred to mental health specialists in the United Kingdom last year were turned away. This comes from a report released by U.K. Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield, in which she gathered data from 48 of the country’s 60 child and adolescent mental health trusts. The report also indicates that those who did receive treatment were forced to wait, on average, for over 100 days. These statistics reveal that the U.K. is failing to provide adequate mental health care for its youngest citizens. Secretary of State for Health, MP Jeremy Hunt, must act to increase funding and enhance accessibility for children’s mental health care in his country.
Longfield’s report found that the majority of individuals whose referrals were denied had been told that their conditions were not serious enough to warrant immediate care. However, her report also indicates that many of these same individuals were in fact facing serious struggles such as suicidal behavior, severe psychosis, and anorexia nervosa. It is deeply troubling, and ultimately unacceptable, that children who have already been experiencing life-threatening problems are being turned away so swiftly.
Moreover, many trusts told Longfield that they would restrict access to services for those who missed appointments. Such a policy, many of these professionals argued, functioned in response to an increasingly high demand for mental health care in the U.K. The fact that these trusts are so overwhelmed that they feel justified in punishing mentally unstable children for missing appointments, after making them wait as long as 200 days to receive treatment, raises many questions about the mental health care culture in the U.K.
A lack of resources and lack of compassion are causing a full-blown failure with regards to children’s mental health care in the U.K. This cannot go on any longer. Sign the petition below to urge Secretary Hunt to increase funding and enhance accessibility for children’s mental health care in his country.
Dear Secretary Hunt,
Nearly 30 percent of children who desperately need mental health care in your country are being turned away. This is happening, in large part, due to a lack of resources and lack of compassion. It is up to you to stop this disaster by increasing resources for and improving the culture of children’s mental health care in the U.K.
Forcing children, many of whom have already attempted suicide or are struggling with other life-threatening symptoms, to wait up to 200 days for treatment is plainly unacceptable. Children’s mental health needs to be taken more seriously in the U.K.
There is no reason why a wealthy, technologically advanced country such as yours cannot provide ample mental health care to its youngest citizens. I urge you to increase funding and enhance accessibility for children’s mental health care in the U.K.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Utah Easy2Love Children’s Mental Health Non-Profit