Worsened by the isolation and uncertainty felt during the pandemic, the number of children in need of support for mental health problems has surged. With CAHMS struggling to handle the backlog, a raised threshold was implemented in 2021-22, which effectively cut off access to 60% of children who had been stuck on waiting lists. Now, the requirement for treatment has been raised to such a level that children need to be in a severe condition before they are considered “ill enough”, allowing more children to get to critical points that could’ve otherwise been prevented if help was offered sooner.

Distribution of support from CAMHS is greatly affected by location, with spending four times higher in some areas, resulting in a disproportionate waiting times – from ten days to three years. Without government support, parents have no choice but to take their children out of school or spend thousands in covering the cost of private care. For families with low income, who are already unfairly impacted by the government’s approach to nationwide funding, the current system is failing them.

There has been no clear course of action after the government’s 10-year mental health plan was dropped, and without one, the current mental health crisis can only worsen. When children are left without support, new solutions to support them that are both easy to understand and to find need to be implemented. Step forward animation.
As the above example illustrates, animation can reduce waiting times for CAMHS services by explaining the triage process prior to the arrival of the patient. This approach saves time and money for CAMHS and provides the patient (and family) with a clear overview of the treatment pathway.

Given the long waiting times, animation can provide clarity around a presenting problem (such as addiction or depression) while they wait. This allows a person (and their family) to gain an understanding, and to feel empowered. As well as describing the dynamics of the problem, the animation can include details of support groups with associated helplines while they wait for treatment. These details can be easily localised for different healthcare trusts.
Animation is a very versatile medium. It can be posted on social media, where it’s likely the cohort (for example children and young adults) are going to be spending their time, more so if they are isolating. The voice over can be re-edited into any language. Stills images can be taken from any animation and reused used within other healthcare collateral be it online or in print.

Best of all, animation can be endlessly duplicated. For example, one local authority can produce an animation on alcohol misuse, which be repurposed nationally for every other local authority, for very little extra expense. If any updates are required, these can be quickly and easily implemented.
While the ‘second pandemic’ rise in mental health issues continues to put strain on mental health services, animation offers a creative, relatable solution to support the individuals in difficulty. Animation also allows local authorities, and private organisations a cost effective and innovative approach to their local constituents or employees.

I have created a range of free mental health animations to be shared, and while governmental change needs to happen, readily accessible forms of help are crucial at this time.
If you would like to learn more about how animation can be used as a mental health resource, feel free to contact me on the details below.

Benefits of animation

  • Animation is accessible, especially via social media, and completely free to air for people who require it (via mobile phones).
  • Animation can reach cohorts who struggle to read and write, eg those with a neurodivergence (20% of the population) and/or SEND (15% of the population).
  • Animation can be translated to reach people for whom English is not the first language.
  • Waiting times for CAMHS and community mental health services is typically months – from script to screen, an animation can be created in two weeks, making it ideal for ‘disaster’ work.
  • Animation voiceovers can be quickly translated and revoiced in any language at a rough cost of only £1000.
  • While the initial animation can cost about £10k, subsequent digital copies are completely free (unlike print). Small amendments to ‘end slates’ to, for example, localise helpline numbers cost very little, so one trauma video can be used 10,000 times nationally at pretty much no extra cost.
  • Animation works brilliantly across all social media channels so it’s instantly and freely accessible and provides a ‘language’ for the person and their caregivers to understand what’s going on.
  • Still images can be taken from the animation and used within other collateral. For example, a dozen still images can be laid out in front of a child, enabling them to choose which image from the animation spoke to them (a good way to introduce tricky subjects, eg sexual abuse).