Children & Young People's Mental Health

Improving mental health provision equity for young people

Our new portfolio of regional health equity programmes targets specific health equity gaps through a portfolio of projects which supports the adoption and spread of innovation.

Our second regional programme is focused on mental health provision for children and young people. Our first regional programme focuses on health equity gaps in perinatal health and care. A third programme will be determined/approved in the coming months.

What is health equity?

When we talk about health equity in the South West AHSN we mean that variations in the health and care system are not experienced by different groups in:

  • Accessing care, for example, the availability of treatments
  • Quality of Care, for example, levels of patient satisfaction
  • Opportunities for a healthy life
  • Individuals feeling empowered to manage their own health

The factors to consider when identifying those who experience health inequity are: 

  • Socio-economic factors, for example, unemployment
  • Protected characteristics, for example, age, ethnicity, religion
  • Geography, for example, rural and urban settings
  • Socially excluded groups, for example people experiencing homelessness

Why focus on mental health services for young people?

Our second Regional Health Equity Programme is focused on Mental Health Services for Young People and there is strong evidence to support this as a priority.

  • Children’s mental health needs in the South West are higher than in other regions. Social, emotional, and mental health needs in school pupils in 2020 rose to 3.2% in the South West, higher than any other region of England.
  • Young people’s self-harm hospital admissions rate is higher than in other regions. The rate of hospital admissions per 100,000 as a result of self-harm (10-24 years) for the South West was 659 in 2019/20 higher than any other region.
  • Barriers to accessing support for children in rural areas. 
    • Children in sparsely populated areas face significant barriers to accessing support, which is sometimes limited or has been reduced in recent years.
    • These difficulties are disproportionately experienced by children living in poverty (which is often more hidden in rural areas), children who have complex needs and children who face other risks of exclusion, alienation, and marginalisation (such as young carers, disabled children, children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, and LGBTQ+ children).3
  • A greater proportion of children with needs in Cornwall. Cornwall JSNA - in 2018, there is a greater proportion of children with a social, emotional, and mental health need in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (CloS) than across England, including both primary (2.63%) and secondary (2.73%) school children. 2.66% of school-age children had a social, emotional, and mental health need.
  • Poorer children’s mental health outcomes in Devon. Devon JSNA - poor mental health in children results in poorer outcomes relating to health and wellbeing. Hospital admissions in children and young people are considerably higher in Devon for mental health conditions, self-harm, and injuries. This gap is even wider for vulnerable groups such as disadvantaged and looked after children.

South West AHSN Young People's Mental Health Survey

The South West AHSN is keen to hear where you think further focus is required across health and care to support work to tackle gaps in health equity, including in the area of young people's mental health.

Hearing from young people, families and those that work with them in the health and care sector will be vital to us designing a programme that has an impact for young people, parents, communities, and practitioners.

Please help us improve mental health services for young people by taking this short survey.

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