There need to be national multi-agency collaborative pathways for the holistic assessment of children with attention difficulties

We, as chartered psychologists (BPS), are delighted that the inadequate provision for children with mental health difficulties in the UK was highlighted (Shocking failures on children with ADHD, 4 August). We agree with the findings that there are considerable local differences in practice in this field. We note with concern the reported rise in prescriptions for stimulant drugs such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) between 2010 and 2015. We should not fall into the trap of believing that diagnosis and medication are the only, or the best, ways to address the emotional and behavioural problems of our children. There need to be national multi-agency collaborative pathways for the holistic assessment of children just as there has been for years with children on the autistic spectrum.

Medication should be the last resort after all other recommended interventions. It should only follow evaluation of the alternative therapies and strategies used, followed by careful monitoring of any side-effects. The BPS in its recent submission to the Nice consultation on ADHD called for a ban on prescribing these stimulants to children under five.

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