08 February 2022
Significant improvements are being made in children's health and wellbeing in Jersey, according to the new head of the service.
Dr Darren Bowring, Head of Children's Health and Wellbeing and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), has spoken about the improvements as part of Children's Mental Health Week (7-13 February).
Last year referrals to CAMHS increased from 683 in 2020, to 855 in 2021. The CAMHS case load at the end of 2021 was 993 children and young people.
Dr Bowring said that despite the increase in referrals, the waiting times have significantly decreased.
"The increased prevalence of mental health issues in children and young people has been reported internationally in recent years, as well as in Jersey, and the pandemic appears to have accelerated issues further."
"We have seen growing prevalence in Jersey of eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, and depression; with increased requests for neurodevelopmental assessments for ADHD and autism.
"The CAMHS service in Jersey is smaller than similar jurisdictions, so staff have needed to work incredibly hard to meet demand. This they have done successfully, as despite a significant increase in referrals waiting times for routine referrals to assessment reduced from five weeks to four weeks, with an overall average referral to completed assessment time of 21 days in 2021."
Other areas in the service have improved, which include waiting times for autism assessments reducing from 18 months to three months following partnership agreements with external providers and staff working weekends and additional hours.
Waiting times for ADHD assessments also reduced to 4 to 6 months from 12 months.
Dr Bowring said that the service will build on these positive foundations in 2022: with funding from the Government plan, the service will be redesigned to provide clearer pathways to support.
"We move forward with delivering the Children and Young People Mental Health Strategy 2021-2025 and with that redesigning services under the health and wellbeing banner. Government plan monies in 2022 will allow a major recruitment campaign,' he said.
The theme of Children's Mental Health Awareness Week (7 – 13 February) is "Growing Together".
Dr Bowring said that the service is determined that health and wellbeing will develop, improve, and grow in partnership with the children, young people, families, and partner agencies.
"Our work with Youthful Minds is a great example of this with our co-produced work on the health and wellbeing redesign, recruitment – including young people joining us in staff interviews – work on pathways and improving the experience for young people attending appointments. Youthful Minds have suggested a new reception design and waiting area, which is now being created."