Rise in children on adult mental health wards ‘absolutely abhorrent’

A joint investigation by the BBC and Community Care has found that an increasing number of under-18s with mental health problems in England are being treated on adult psychiatric wards.

Responding to the findings, Victoria Bleazard, Associate Director of Campaigns at the charity Rethink Mental Illness said:

“It’s absolutely abhorrent that the NHS is failing young people in this most basic way. Commissioners tell us there have been times when there hasn’t been a single bed available for a young person anywhere in the country in either the public or private sector. This just shows how dire the situation is, it should never have been allowed to reach this point.

“To place a teenager or child in an adult psychiatric ward can be traumatising and hugely damaging. If this is their first experience of the mental health system, they are much less likely to engage with services in future. This means they’re less likely to recover and are more likely to reach crisis point and be sectioned under the mental health act.

“When a young person experiences their first episode of serious mental illness, it’s vital they receive swift, appropriate, quality treatment. The NHS must invest in inpatient beds for young people, this is the absolute minimum we should be offering them.”


For more information, contact Rachel Hobbs, News and Media Manager for Rethink Mental Illness on 0207 840 3138 or email rachel.hobbs@rethink.org

Notes to editors

Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.

For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness.
We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.

We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.

For more information go to www.rethink.org