Agenda item

Agenda item

The impact of COVID-19 on children and young people's mental health and well-being

Report of the Director of CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)


This report explores the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health and well-being. Within this evidence suggests that children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing has been substantially impacted during the pandemic resulting in higher prevalence and demand and acuity (complexity) for CAMHS.


The Committee received a report of Al Ford, the Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) which explored the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health and well-being.


The main points and themes within the report included:


  • The impact of the pandemic and lockdown on children and young people’s mental health;
  • Manchester CAMHS waiting time and demand; and
  • CAMHS response under the COVID-19 pandemic.


Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:


  • To recognise the way that CAMHS had adapted and provided services differently during the pandemic and to thank them for their work;
  • Concern about outcomes for young people who were referred to CAMHS but told that they did not meet the threshold;
  • How the M-Thrive Hubs were developing;
  • The roll-out of Manchester Thrive in Education (Mental Health Support Teams in schools); and
  • Variations in referral levels across different parts of the city.


Al Ford reported that the clinical threshold for CAMHS was defined nationally and that the service responded based on clinical priority, with the most unwell children seen first.  He advised Members that one of the reasons for mobilising the M-Thrive offer was for the children and young people who did not meet the clinical threshold, who could then be directed to the M-Thrive Hubs, which could identify the right service to meet the needs of the child or young person.  He explained that the first Hub had been established in north Manchester, with two further Hubs opening this year.  Therefore, he advised, the greatest impact so far had been in the north of the city, where the model had had time to mature.  This, he reported, included fewer inappropriate referrals to CAMHS, which meant that children and young people were being referred to a service which was appropriate for their needs in a more timely fashion.  He informed Members that this would be monitored and evaluated as the M Thrive model embedded.  He outlined the work taking place to roll out Manchester Thrive in Schools, advising that it was hoped that this would be expanded in the autumn term and reach more schools but that his service did not have control over the rate of coverage and which schools were involved.  He advised that this was not intended to replace any existing provision individual schools might have, such as school counsellors. 


In response to requests for data about the ethnicity and geographical spread of CAMHS referrals, Al Ford informed Members that he would provide this information at a later date.  He outlined how the service was trying to move from a westernised clinical model to a needs-based model and how Equality Diversity and Inclusion were incorporated into the service, including making the workforce more diverse and providing opportunities for progression.  He recognised comments from the Chair that there had been some benefits for autistic young people when lockdown was first introduced; however, he reported that the emotional health of this cohort had subsequently declined and outlined how the service had responded to this.  In response to a Member’s question, he advised that the service was aware of the impact of working during the pandemic on staff and outlined the programmes introduced to support staff welfare.  In response to a question from the Chair, he reported that the service was seeing more asylum-seeking children and young people, including those who were fleeing wars across the world.  In response to a question from the Chair, he outlined the funding arrangements for his service, advising that there was now increased investment in children and young people’s mental health and the challenge was in putting in place a sustainable workforce.


Members discussed receiving a further report on CAMHS or children’s mental health at a future meeting. 




1.            To request data on the ethnicity and geographical spread of CAMHS referrals, in order to be able to identify any gaps.


2.            That the Committee will continue to monitor children and young people’s mental health services.


[Councillor Reid declared a personal interest as a Governor of Manchester Central Foundation NHS Trust.]

Supporting documents: