An alarming report has revealed that more than a quarter of children in UK who were referred to mental health services in England last year received no health support.
Some of these children had also attempted suicide.
The review by the Children’s Commissioner also showed that even the 13% of the children who were suffering with life-threatening conditions were not allowed specialist support.
For the report, the commissioner obtained data from 48 of England’s 60 child and adolescent mental health service trusts.
The Commissioner discovered that 28% of child referrals were denied specialist treatment.
NHS England said it would spend an extra £1.4bn to expand services.
An NHS England spokesman said: “While the data in this report des not substantiate the conclusions drawn, it is clearly the case that CAMHs services need to expand and the additional £1.4bn pledged will help us to do that.”
Lengthy Delays In Treatment
The report also revealed that children secured treatment had to face lengthy delays, with an average waiting time of more than 100 days.
Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme,
“There is a gap emerging between the help and support that GPs can offer and the specialist services,” Ms Longfield added.
“I don’t yet know quite why they are being turned away, but certainly being turned away or put on a waiting list for up to six months is clearly playing Russian roulette with their health.”
She added that she had heard from a “constant stream of children, parents and professionals” about the lack of timely help.
The average waiting time for those who secured support ranged from 14 days in a trust in northwest England to 200 days at one in the West Midlands.
Too Much Demand
Around 35% of the Trusts said they would restrict access to services for children who missed their appointments.
The trusts told the Commissioner that there was “too much demand” for their services.
“There is more awareness, more people coming forward for help,” she said.
“But actually this is about recognising the terrible conditions children are in and looking at how their local systems can respond.”
Natasha Devon, formerly the government’s mental health champion, said it was necessary to look at the root causes of the problem.
“Anxiety, for example, is the fastest growing illness in under-21s, and we need to look at what’s happening to young people – the culture and the society they live in, the pressures that are on them.”
James Morris, the Conservative MP who is chair of the all-party group on mental health, said,
“We do need to move towards a more compassionate system for children and young people but the transformation is going to take time,” he told the Today programme.
“It’s going to require additional investment, better commissioning on the ground.”