The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling on the government to reinstate the child and adolescent psychiatric morbidity survey.

The College believes the survey, which has not been carried out for almost a decade, would provide vital data on children and young people’s mental health and help improve the commissioning and delivery of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

The College’s call comes ahead of a Commons Adjournment Debate on child and adolescent in-patient mental health services. 

There has been a large increase in young people’s mental health problems in the last 25 years. One in 10 children and young people have a diagnosable mental disorder, which is equivalent to three children in every classroom. Half of all diagnosable mental health problems, with the exception of dementia, start before the age of 14.  

Identifying these problems and providing the right support at an early stage should be a priority. Yet there is a major crisis in provision of child and adolescent in-patient beds, and there has been no new survey of child and adolescent mental health needs since 2004.

Dr Peter Hindley, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said: “We are facing major difficulties across all areas of child and adolescent mental health services, but especially admissions to child and adolescent inpatient units. Without reliable scientific data about the frequency of child and adolescent mental health problems it is very difficult to develop coherent guidance on current and future provision of services.”