Review of children and young people's mental health services: Phase one report

Published: 24 October 2017 Page last updated: 12 May 2022

This report looks at the quality and accessibility of mental health services for children and young people. It summarises the current state of knowledge from across a range of sources.

Phase one report cover image

The Prime Minister asked us to conduct a review of quality and access across the system of mental health services for children and young people.

The report brings together the insights and experiences of many different people and organisations. It summarises the current state of knowledge, the problems and challenges, and the effect of these problems and challenges on children and young people and their families and carers.

What we did

We used three sources of information as the foundation for the report:

  • Our inspection reports
  • A review of recent policy and evidence about children and young people’s mental health services
  • Engagement with people who have expert knowledge and experience of children and young people’s mental health services

See the supporting documents for more information on what we found.

What we found

The system as a whole is complex and fragmented. Mental health care is funded, commissioned and provided by many different organisations that do not always work together in a joined-up way. As a result, too many children and young people have a poor experience of care and some are unable to access timely and appropriate support.

Where we've seen good care, we've found collaboration within services and also between different organisations and services. We also found examples of creative approaches that help some services provide good or outstanding examples of person-centred care.

People who work with children and young people do not always have the skills or capacity to identify mental health problems. They may not be able to help children and young people access the right support at the right time.

More children and young people are being diagnosed with some types of mental health problems than in the past.

Safety is seen as the greatest overall area of concern in specialist child and adolescent mental health services.

Next steps

This report is the beginning of our review and lays the foundations for our next steps.

In the next phase of our review, we will look at what could be done to make it easier to improve access and quality.

We will visit 10 local areas to carry out fieldwork. We will ask how we can ensure that all partners make their unique contribution and work together so that children, young people, their families and carers have timely access to high-quality mental health care.

We will make full recommendations when we publish our thematic review in March 2018.