Working together better for mental health in children and young people during a pandemic: experiences from North Central London during the first wave of COVID-19

Hodges, Sally, Gorny, Monika and Ellis, Jacob (2021) Working together better for mental health in children and young people during a pandemic: experiences from North Central London during the first wave of COVID-19. BMJ Paediatrics Open, 5 (1). ISSN 2399-9772

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Abstract

Direct risk from infection from COVID-19 for children and young people (CYP) is low, but impact on services, education and mental health (so-called collateral damage) appears to have been more significant. In North Central London (NCL) during the first wave of the pandemic, in response to the needs and demands for adults with COVID-19, general paediatric wards in acute hospitals and some paediatric emergency departments were closed. Paediatric mental health services in NCL mental health services were reconfigured. Here we describe process and lessons learnt from a collaboration between physical and mental health services to provide care for CYP presenting in mental health crisis. Two new ‘hubs’ were created to coordinate crisis presentations in the region and to link community mental health teams with emergency departments. All CYP requiring a paediatric admission in the first wave were diverted to Great Ormond Street Hospital, a specialist children’s hospital in NCL, and a new ward for CYP mental health crisis admissions was created. This brought together a multidisciplinary team of mental health and physical health professionals. The most common reason for admission to the ward was following a suicide attempt (n=17, 43%). Patients were of higher acute mental health complexity than usually admitted to the hospital, with some CYP needing an extended period of assessment. In this review, we describe the challenges and key lessons learnt for the development of this new ward setting that involved such factors as leadership, training and also new governance processes. We also report some personal perspectives from the professionals involved. Our review provides perspective and experience that can inform how CYP with mental health admissions can be managed in paediatric medical settings.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Received 1 April 2021; Accepted 19 August 2021
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents- Psychology
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Child Care Services
Health and Medical Sciences > Patient Care
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2539

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