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Young offenders 'failed' by mental health services

Young people in the criminal justice system are being seriously failed by mental health provision, a report has claimed. 

Rigid criteria for mental health services means young people have to endue “severe and debilitating” mental illness before they can access any type of help or support, the report states. 

Released by youth mental health charity YoungMinds, in association with the Transition to Adulthood Alliance, the report shows very little has changes over the past 20 years for young people stuck between mental health services and the criminal justice system. 

Waiting lists are too long resulting in young people self-medicating with drugs and alcohol while they wait to access services. The groups claim this can exacerbate their mental ill health and offending behaviour.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds said: “In order to prevent more tragedies and the waste of thousands of young people's futures we are calling on politicians, local government, commissioners, children and young people's mental health services, GP's, magistrates and the children's workforce to grasp the nettle and work with young people to ensure they get the mental health support and intervention they need.

“Young people and society deserve better. We should not be writing these young people off and risking them becoming engulfed in a life of crime which will dictate their futures because they did not receive the help they desperately needed.”

Joyce Moseley OBE, chair of the Transition to Adulthood Alliance said: “By not providing appropriate and effective mental health services we are just funnelling young people into the criminal justice system with all the stigma and exclusion that brings. It doesn't make sense for them, for their families and communities or the tax payer. We do know what is needed - the political and professional will to deliver it.”