THE “catastrophic crisis” facing young people in West Cumbria with mental health problems has been raised at a full meeting of the county council.

Cllr Rebecca Hanson gave a speech to warn of a lack of support available for those in Allerdale and Copeland who self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts.

One child had waited nine years for a child and adolescent mental health (CAMHs) assessment, said the Liberal Dem councillor for Cockermouth North.

“The situation in Cumbria is worse than anywhere else due to very high and rapidly increasing levels of demand, the near total collapse of CAMHs services and geographical isolation,” she said.

The “epidemic” needed to be tackled and that included education policy which could negatively affect mental health, she added.

She cited the introduction of teaching complex maths to children from the age of four under schools minister Nick Gibb. “His initiatives have caused extreme levels of stress for students and teachers, with many young children crying during exams,” she said.“When new policies are developed, they should be subject to public and expert scrutiny and consultation which considers their impact on youth mental health,” said Cllr Hanson.

Cllr Anne Burns, the cabinet member for children’s service, said youth mental health services in West Cumbria faced “huge challenges”.

She said they came under the governance of the NHS where the county council had little influence.

Cllr Burns said: “There are many things we can do, especially in terms of the prevention agenda. We do work closely with the commissioners and providers of CAMHs service and appreciate the current situation is challenging.”

She said a countywide mental health service called “My Time” was provided by Barnardos with 137 people from West Cumbria using it in the final months of 2018.

The council had also agreed to support the creation of a West Cumbria youth mental health network to bring organisations together.

“We will listen to what this network tells us as we work to develop further support for youth mental health services in West Cumbria,” said Cllr Burns.

The council also planned to seek funding for mental health service teams in schools.

“There will be an emphasis on intervening early and working in communities and it will focus upon West Cumbria first,” said Cllr Burns, the Labour member for Barrow.