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12.10.15

A fifth of children rejected by mental health services due to high clinical threshold

One-fifth of children referred to specialist mental health services in the NHS are rejected for treatment, including children whose problems stem from abuse, research by the NSPCC has found today (12 October).

The study was based on statistics from 35 mental health trusts in England, which showed that of nearly 187,000 cases referred by GPs and other professionals, 40,000 children did not receive help.

Six mental health trusts also provided a breakdown of outcomes for children referred to CAMHS who had issues with abuse or neglect, of which one in six cases were rejected.

This is despite the fact that children who have been abused or neglected could face serious long-term mental health problems if they do not receive support.

Amongst the reasons listed for the failure to often services to abused or neglected children was their failure to meet the “high clinical threshold” to qualify for treatment at a CAMHS.

In some areas, strict access criteria for both assessment and treatment were also identified as “significant issues”.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC’s chief executive, said:  “There’s been a huge increase in awareness about all forms of abuse in recent years. If children don’t receive the right kind of help and support following a disclosure, the damage can last a lifetime and include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or suicidal thoughts in adulthood.

“CAMHS are just one part of the jigsaw and it’s clear the current range of support available doesn’t meet the needs of many abused and neglected children.

“More and more victims of abuse are speaking out and we need to match their bravery with more specialist therapeutic support that is age-appropriate and there for children and young people, for as long as they need it.”

He added that some of the children who cannot access services have to call ChildLine.

Commenting on the report, Luciana Berger MP, shadow mental health minister, said: “These shameful figures show that ministers’ rhetoric about parity of esteem between physical and mental health services is not translating into reality.

“No child should be denied the help or support they need. It is unacceptable that children are being turned away from treatment only to become more seriously ill. In recent years the number of children turning up to A&E with a mental illness has almost doubled.

“More needs to be done to train and equip NHS staff with the skills they need to spot the signs of mental illness. But the government must also be held to account for breaking its promises. This year is has spent £107m less than it promised on child and adolescent mental health.”

When NHE attended the Health and Care Expo in September, professionals involved with the upcoming Mental Health Taskforce, spearheaded by Mind’s Paul Farmer, said that children’s mental health would feature prominently in the final report.

Comments

Anon   13/10/2015 at 10:17

Seems like a figure that fits with experience. And often there is then nowhere else to go.

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