The national service framework for mental health should be extended to cover children and young people, says a children's mental health charity.

YoungMinds made the call in a report which shows that many health, social services and education professionals believe there is a serious mismatch between the type of inpatient provision available and what is needed. In a study of health and social services agencies, the charity found greatly increased referral rates of children and young people where mental concerns were an issue, including increasing numbers of emergencies.

The study showed increased pressure on all community services as a result of staffing shortages, especially in consultant child and adolescent psychiatrists.

There had also been disruption from service reorganisations and boundary changes, with long waiting lists for initial assessments. There was a great deal of inter-agency confusion and frustration about children with conduct disorders and challenging behaviour, and over what role child and adolesecent mental health services should play.

Peter Wilson, director of YoungMinds, said: 'If a national service framework is thought essential. . . for adults, it is hard to understand how children's services. . . can be expected to improve without a comparable approach.'

Whose Crisis? Meeting the needs of children and young people with serious mental health problems. YoungMinds.

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