What parents told us for the taskforce report consultation

Lizzie Bruce
16 Mar 2015

Parents’ contributions to the Children, Young People and Family Engagement for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce.

YoungMinds was commissioned to collect the views of young people, parents and carers on issues relating to the provision of mental health information and services for the Taskforce Report.

Over 400 parents responded to on-line surveys and 17 discussion groups were conducted as well as six telephone interviews.

Promotion and access to information and services

Of the groups we engaged with, parents felt least informed about how to support their child when they are struggling with their mental health or self-harming, and how to teach their child about looking after their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Participants across all audiences including parents highlighted the need for information to be provided earlier to allow focus on prevention and spotting early signs.

Parents have a clear preference for mental health services to be delivered in person. 94% of parents would be more confident in a service’s value if it was delivered face to face rather than online.

I think any online provision without supervision and professional support via face to face meeting is potentially very dangerous."

- Parent survey

School support

Parents told us that forms of support from schools that they found helpful are not provided very often. These were:

  • information on the school intranet
  • evening sessions for parents looking after their child’s mental health
  • lessons about mental health for pupils
  • signposting to access support

It was generally agreed that mental health support requires full-time dedicated trained staff able to identify worrying signs and that mental health should be included in the curriculum, alongside physical health. Services should be delivered in an approachable way, with self-help and peer support available, as well as after school drop-in.


Young people and parents are often concerned they’re not listened to – sometimes complaining that GPs are ignorant of mental health issues and turn a blind eye to worrying signs.

GPs are just very dismissive of parents and parental concerns… You are telling your GP and oh it’s a parental issue, oh it’s a behavioural problem at home, and your kid is trying to stab you with a knife."

- Parent group attendee

A co-ordinated system

72% of parents who’ve used services have had an experience of poorly integrated services – approximately three times as many as those who have an experience of well integrated services (26%).

I was getting pushed from pillar to post, from pillar to post, it was the school that had to assess her, no it was the GP, it was the school, it was the GP, and I gave up on that one in the end.

- Parent group attendee

Key to services working together more effectively is:

  • improved communication
  • better liaison between professionals
  • clear lines of responsibility
  • absolute clarity with young people about confidentiality

It’s vital to be clear about what information will be shared with whom, and why, and in what circumstances information may need to be shared without the consent of the young person.

Experiences of mental health services

Positive experiences of mental health services were infrequent amongst parents. Areas of dissatisfaction included:

  • getting an appropriate referral to a service in the first place – a feeling of having to fight their way into services and tell their story over and over again before professionals will believe that their child is ill
  • the waiting time prior to actually attending the appointment

The need for the child to become quite ill before any service is made available was highlighted.

An ideal CAMHS service

Universally, participants commented that the characteristics of an ideal service would include:

  • being accessible and available
  • providing support in a timely fashion
  • privacy and confidentiality – but with the option to have someone accompany you
  • clear communications
  • working with the same professional each time
  • being listened to and believed, having key information available
  • the opportunity for an informal first meeting with professionals to get to know people

Transition to adult services

Parents commented that a level of flexibility should be allowed right up to 25.

The hand-over from child and adolescent services is immediate and almost brutal. A phasing of change to adult mental health services at 18 would be helpful. There should be a specific service for 18 to late 20s. These are no longer children but certainly not adult

– Parent survey

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