NSPCC urges PM to act as '150 children a day denied mental health help'

NSPCC urges PM to act as '150 children a day denied mental health help'

NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless. Image: NSPCC

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The NSPCC has urged Theresa May to ensure children have access to early mental health support.

A report by the Education and Health and Social Care select committees said that the strategy could leave the most disadvantaged children without care.

£300 million of funding will go into new schemes that will see a ‘mental health lead’ being appointed in schools, and creating extra support teams to work with schools and the NHS.

The report said that children who’d been excluded from school, those in care, or being educated outside of mainstream schools or not in education at all were in danger of missing out on care.

MPs criticised the slow rollout - it’s thought only a quarter of the country have the new services by 2023 - and the fact that certain areas could end up with better provision than others.

It also criticised the plans for not addressing the causes of child mental health issues.

Now the chief executive of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, has written to the Prime Minister to urge her to act, citing the NSPCC’s own research that showed the equivalent of 150 children a day were being turned away from child mental health services under current provisions.

“Citing the narrow scope and limited ambition of the proposals, the MPs are clear that the proposed strategy “will provide no help to the majority of those children who desperately need it,” wrote Wanless in the letter.

“At the NSPCC, we echo these concerns, together with 22,000 members of the public who have now signed our Are You There? petition, which campaigns for early intervention.

“We are also concerned by the Government’s lack of urgency for improving access to mental health support for children, with even these improvements limited to pockets of the country.

“This will mean that thousands of children will continue to struggle in silence, suffering with an undetected and therefore unsupported need.”

Voluntary services were having to pick up the slack, he added.

“For many of these children, their only source of support will be voluntary sector provision.

“Over the last five years we have seen a 33 per cent rise in mental health-related contacts to our Childline service, to the point where this now accounts for one in every three counselling sessions we deliver.

“This worrying trend is a product of the crisis in statutory mental health support.

“NSPCC analysis has revealed that, in the last two years, over 100,000 children were turned away by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – the equivalent of 150 a day.

“As today’s report acknowledges, more attention must be given to prevention and early intervention if these children are to have somewhere to turn.”

The Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield released a report last October that estimated only 1 in 5 children with a mental health condition received help from CAMHS.