Mentally ill teenager held in a police custody cell because there are no beds in the UK

Today the BBC reported that a 16 year old girl with mental health problems was kept in a police cell for two days because of the lack of care beds.  Mr Netherton, assistant Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, raised concerns saying that the situation was ‘unacceptable.’

He tweeted ‘We have a 16 yr old girl suffering from mental health issues held in police custody.  There are no beds available in the UK! #unacceptable.’ Shadow Health Minister Luciana Berger describes the situation as ‘an appalling reflection of the crisis in mental health.’

But, what are the government going to do about it?  When I read this, I was absolutely appalled and angry.  What kind of message does it send out to people about mental health?  Since the report has been published, the teenager has now found a bed, and will hopefully receive the care that she needs.

Another report recently said that at least 8 people have completed suicide in the last two years because they have not had access to psychiatric care.  According to Community Care, 468 beds have been closed in mental health trusts over the past year, while more than 2,000 mental health facilities have been shut down since April 2011.

The government are aware of the facts that mental health issues are on the rise and getting younger and younger, yet it is still underfunded and understaffed and not a priority.  I fear what Dr Tanya Byron says is true – that these statistics will just increase and mental health will never be a priority.  What can we do?

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