Outcome measures for children and young people’s mental health
Paula Lavis, Policy and Knowledge Manager at YoungMinds, reports on why we need outcome measures for children and young people's mental health
The three outcomes frameworks: NHS, Public Health, and Adult Social Care, are important because they are likely to drive improvements at a local level. Local authorities and local NHS services will be held to account for how well they improve outcomes for their local population, so indicators in the frameworks will probably dictate what is prioritised. Children and young people’s mental health is often a low priority, so there needs to be outcomes relevant to this age group to ensure that they are not overlooked.
There are some indicators in the outcomes frameworks, which are relevant to children and young people, but they are in short supply. Thankfully the frameworks are not set in stone, and will develop over time. One big problem is that we can all think up indicators, but there needs to be a dataset available to measure progress. This is particularly a problem for children and young people’s mental health, as there is a lack of good data and this situation is not likely to improve until the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) dataset is properly embedded.
YoungMinds, the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition and others lobbied for better outcome measures. As a result of this lobbying, the Government set up the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum to consult with stakeholders and report back to inform the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Strategy. One of the four areas that Government particularly wanted views on is mental health.
The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, of which YoungMinds is a member, submitted a response to the Forum and hopefully this will help develop better indicators for children and young people.