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Joint Review: How are healthcare, education, and children’s services supporting the mental health needs of children and young people in Wales?

We will be leading a joint review with Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) and Estyn to explore how healthcare, education and children’s services support the mental health needs of children and young people in Wales.

logos of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Estyn and Care Inspectorate Wales

A range of intelligence held by us highlights that the demand for mental health support is significantly above service capacity. This is a national issue, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a high number of children and young people waiting prolonged periods for specialist CAMHS assessment and intervention. Consequently, this can result in people not receiving the support needed and, in some cases, their mental health condition is deteriorating further. 

The aim of our joint review is to consider whether children and young people are receiving timely and effective support for their mental health needs. Our review will focus on children aged 11 to 16 in mandatory education and will consider the services available to support their mental health needs within healthcare, education, and children’s services, before referral to or assessment by specialist CAMHS.

Our research and stakeholder engagement has helped inform the scope of our work to answer the question:

  • How are healthcare, education, and children’s services in Wales supporting the mental health needs of children and young people, as they wait for assessment, or who do not meet the criteria for specialist CAMHS intervention?

Our key lines of enquiry include:

  • Do education and children’s services provide effective support to children and young people who have new or existing mental health conditions?
  • What services are available to manage the mental health needs of children and young people across Wales?
  • Do children and young people have timely and equitable access to healthcare interventions to support their mental health needs?
  • What referral pathways are in place across healthcare and local authority services, for children and young people to access specialist CAMHS services, and are these effective?
  • How are services considering equality, diversity and inclusion for children and young people who need mental health support, and those affected by socio-economic deprivation?
  • Are healthcare interventions adequate to support the mental health needs of children and young people, as they wait for assessment or who do not meet the criteria for specialist CAMHS intervention?

The review will conclude with the publication of a joint national report in the autumn of 2024. The report will highlight key themes and areas of good practice and will make recommendations where required improvements are identified throughout our review. If any urgent concerns are identified during our review, these will be raised promptly with healthcare providers, education services and children’s services, or Welsh Government. In addition, where we feel appropriate, any interim findings will be communicated to our stakeholders, healthcare providers, children’s services and education services as appropriate.

The terms of reference for the review are attached below.