NSPCC report says a fifth of children are turned away by mental health services

The BBC reported today that more than a fifth of children referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in England do not meet the threshold for treatment, this is according to research carried out by the NSPCC. 

The charity said that some of those turned away included children whose problems stemmed from abuse. Nearly 40,000 young people did not meet the mental health criteria for receiving help. Although the government said it was boosting funding to meet an increasing demand for these services, it is unclear what impact this will have in real terms. 

The NSPCC said a time bomb of serious mental health conditions was being created and reported that 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. 

Many child psychotherapists train and work in CAMHS clinics and understand the pressure on services, but there are other reasons for this crisis according to ACP Chair Heather Stewart, who stresses that despite promised addtional funding, child mental health services are cutting key posts such as well trained specialists, who understand trauma and how to help those who have suffered abuse. 

"It is a huge worry that children are being turned away from CAMHS. To meet the threshold for services these days children have to be seriously ill. CAMHS services are no longer available to provide preventative work or to offer the kind of intensive therapeutic treatment that abused children might need. 

As child psychotherapists we are concerned that child and adolescent mental health services have been shrunk over the last five years with many senior clinicians being downgraded or losing their jobs as part of the so-called efficiency savings and yet children, who are desperately in need of services, are being turned away. The future for such children is grim and adult mental health services and prisons will see the consequences of failure to treat the young and vulnerable in our society."

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