‘Woeful’ funding for kids’ mental health
24 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot
PAUL Burstow was a Lib Dem MP for 18 years and served as care minister during the coalition government. For the past two years he has been the chairman of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.
In an interview this week, he told the New Journal about the trust’s plan to move out of its historic base in Belsize Lane, the work being done to tackle the root causes of child and adolescent mental health in Camden, and the false economy of not properly funding early intervention projects.
“We are woefully behind the curve in terms of investment in early action and treatment and support,” he said. “Demand is going up, it is not going down. We are living in a climate where mental health is talked about by ministers, and commitments are made. But still investment is not anywhere near the level that is needed. Camden is a good investor, but we are probably providing services to 35 per cent of those that need them. Across the country, it could be as low as 20 per cent.
“Half of lifelong mental health problems start in teenage years. We spend far less on children’s mental health than dealing with the consequences of it in adulthood. There is a great quote in a recent report that sort of says if I had the help in my teens that I got in my thirties I wouldn’t have lost my twenties.”
He said: “We are based in schools in Camden, we have clinical psychotherapists in schools. If you don’t put these sorts of measures into the emotional health and mental health of the children, you wind up with more time managing the problems. Half of the costs of poorly managed mental health fall back into schools.” The Tavistock is currently looking to move from Belsize Lane to a site in Camden that is yet to be revealed.
Mr Burstow said: “I think, given the sorts of issues that we are about to address, the disadvantage and discrimination, we need to be somewhere a bit closer, somewhere a little less Hampstead.” He singled out for praise the Family Drug and Alcohol Court – which is run by the Tavistock – which works with parents who may have addiction problems and need help.
Mr Burstow ruled out any return to frontline politics in the future, adding: “It’s a mug’s game. I don’t envy anyone who is in government at this time. We could wind up with a general election this spring, or could wind up with this government trundling on until the early 2020s.”