The cross government mental health strategy No Health without Mental Health published earlier this year takes a life course approach to improving mental health outcomes for people of all ages with a strong focus on early and effective intervention.

Professor Dame Sally Davies wrote: "As part of delivering on the Strategy’s ambition, the Government has recently announced its detailed plans to take forward a key public commitment to extend the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme to children and young people [http://mediacentre.dh.gov.uk/2011/10/25/children-teenagers-benefit-successful-adult-mental-health-therapy/].  

"The focus of this development is a service transformation for children and young people’s mental health care through embedding best evidence based practice, training staff in RCT validated techniques, enhanced supervision and service leadership and monitoring of individual patient outcomes across services.

"Within the context of the renewed focus on evidence based, enhanced quality practice that IAPT will bring, we are writing to remind you that there is now an extensive suite of published NICE guidelines and technology appraisals directly relevant to delivery of mental healthcare to children and young people."

The letter draws particular attention to recent developments on guidance in relation to:

  • Autism: recognition, referral and diagnosis of children and young people on the autism spectrum (NICE Clinical Guideline 128). NICE recently published this guideline on autism. Autism was once thought to be an uncommon developmental disorder but recent studies have reported increased prevalence and the condition is now thought to occur in at least 1% of children. Health services have a key role in recognising and diagnosing autism. Coordination between health agencies and other key services such as education, social care and the
    voluntary sector is important.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (NICE Clinical Guideline 72) NICE have recently reviewed this best practice advice which makes recommendations for the diagnosis and management of ADHD in children, young people and adults. The guideline highlights key priorities for implementation including the need for drug treatment for children and young people to always form part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes psychological, behavioural and educational advice and interventions.