Letter: Our children's care

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The Independent Culture
Sir: While welcoming the Government's determination to try and ensure a cohesive approach to the delivery of care and services for adults suffering from mental illness (report, 9 December), we would like to see the same approach being adopted for children. A brief look at the number of major reports produced in the last 12 years, including those of the Health Select Committee, highlighting the urgent need to improve child and adolescent mental health services and ways in which this should happen, gives little cause to feel confident that the initiatives referred to in "Modernising Mental Health Services", aimed at improving children's mental health, will achieve what they are set up to do.

Programmes such as Sure Start and Youth Offending Teams depend in part for their success on close co-operation with services which already operate with unacceptably long waiting lists. And yet these are the services which have the potential to intervene in the depressingly familiar descent by disturbed children and young people into the adult mentally ill, about whom there is rightly so much concern. For example, 90 per cent of recidivist juvenile delinquents had conduct disorder as children. The manifestation of this in adults can be anti-social personality disorder, alcoholism and drug dependence.

Children's mental health needs are different to those of adults, and services are fundamentally different in their approach. We risk losing sight yet again of children's mental health needs if we bury them in a service which is at heart adult-focused.

PETER WILSON

Director, Young Minds

London EC1

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