Children turned away by mental health services

The BBC is reporting research from the NSPCC that suggests more than a fifth of children referred to mental health services in England have been refused treatment. 

The NSPCC said a time bomb of serious mental health conditions was being created and reported cases of abuse were soaring in the UK.

Figures from 35 mental health trusts across England show that a total of 186,453 cases were referred by GPs and other professionals for help, but 39,652 children did not receive it.

The most common reason was that the child did not meet the clinical threshold for receiving help from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs). 

Children and young people and their families can be referred to Camhs if children are finding it hard to cope with family life, school or the wider world. 

Children’s mental health services can help with a variety of problems including violent behaviour, depression, eating difficulties, anxiety, obsessions, self-harming and the effects of abuse or traumatic events. 

They can also treat serious mental health problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

In six trusts where children who had problems associated with abuse or neglect were referred to Camhs, 305 of the 1,843 cases were rejected – one in six.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said children could be damaged by not receiving the right kind of help and support.

“Not addressing their needs early on is just creating a time bomb of mental health problems. Sadly, the availability of specialist services that meet the needs of abused children, when they need it, do not appear to have kept pace with this growth in understanding of the crime. 

“There is a vacuum that needs to be filled and it needs to be a national and local priority.” 

…A spokesman for NHS England said: “We do need, as a country, to better understand the underlying causes of why it is that children and adolescents’ mental health problems seem to be on the rise, including eating disorders. 

“In the meantime, the NHS is expanding its services to respond, supported in part by an extra £1.25bn pledged for mental health in the March budget.”

More at: Children turned away by mental health services

 

On the assumption that it probably takes quite a lot to get to the stage of a child being referred to a mental health service, this does sound like quite a high number who are then turned away.

What do you think, is there a problem with the level of the clinical threshold currently set? Or does there perhaps need to be alternative provision for those who aren’t deemed sufficiently in need? 

Please give us your insights and reactions in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. alidevismes

    SchoolsImprove was only talking to a year 10 girl yesterday about how she feels there is no support or help for her and her awful anxiety

  2. BehaviourA

    It’s not so much a case of “being refused treatment”, but that clinical treatment by a mental health professional is not always the answer, there are lots of inappropriate referrals made. The real scandal is that so many preventive services and support for schools have been cut. 
    Schools and other settings for children and young people need to be given the appropriate time, training and resources to support mental health holistically. I recommend the Wellbeing Toolkit produced by SebdaOrg and nurturegroupnetwork as a starting point.

  3. JT

    As a SENCO I will sometimes refer children to CAMHS 5 out of 6 (rather than 1 out of 6 as in the article). The majority come back saying parents need to do a parenting course – which they have often already done or they refuse. In the meantime the child still has the problem.

  4. JT

    As a SENCO I will sometimes refer children to CAMHS 5 out of 6 (rather than 1 out of 6 as in the article). The majority come back saying parents need to do a parenting course – which they have often already done or they refuse. In the meantime the child still has the problem.

  5. alidevismes

    So glad this is being highlighted. Not only do I see this massive problem (on so many different levels) first hand as a teacher but also as a parent of a teen with anxiety/obsession issues. We, like many others were turned down for help despite it continuing to effect my childs life (and education) on a daily basis…not enough support available for children/teens

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