On 15 January 2009, the National Institute for Mental Health in England published a tool for mental health professionals working with young people placed on adult mental health wards, which can be accessed here. Its purpose is to set criteria for those occasions when young people under 18 are placed on the ward.

The criteria are organised into seven sections which include:

  1.  environment and facilities;
  2. staffing and training;
  3. assessment, admission, transfers and discharge;
  4. care and treatment;
  5. education and further learning;
  6. information, consent, confidentiality and advocacy; and
  7. other safeguards.

Meeting the criteria in the document will help providers meet the requirements of the “Age Appropriate Environment” amendment to section 131a Mental Health Act. Although the target date for starting this amendment is April 2010, providers are expected to follow the Code of Practice now to ensure that, where under 18s are placed on adult wards, the environment is safe.