Mental health referrals in English schools rise sharply

Kenny Tucker
May 15, 2018

There has been a 10-fold increase in the number of young people being referred by Northamptonshire schools for mental health treatment in the past four years, with more than half of referrals made concerning primary school children.

We believe it is crucial that young people can access support without excessive delays whenever they are courageous enough to seek help.

In addition, Oxford provided figures for the number of children who were not eligible for treatment, which Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust has not provided.

Further figures indicated that 18,870 kids under the age of 11 were given specialist help in the 2017-18 school year alone - that's a third more than the data gathered from three years ago.

In this context, "education settings" encompasses local authority maintained schools, academies, nurseries, independent schools and providers, and pupil referral units.

In nearly a third of all referrals for which data was available, the child in question was denied specialist CAMHS treatment.

Almost a third (31 per cent) of referrals from schools to CAMHS over the last three years were declined treatment as they did not meet the criteria for support.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, which runs the CAMHS service for the county, said the higher number of referrals were as a result of making the system simpler.

Alana Ryan, the NSPCC policy officer, said: "It is worrying there are so many children being deemed as needing some kind of mental health support and whether or not that is mental health support that meets the clinical support threshold, it's still a need".

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"Our research finds that organisations with managers who are able to effectively promote good mental health are less likely to have seen an increase in reported common mental health conditions, which shows how crucial that capability is", she said.

It says community and voluntary services such as Childline are picking up the pieces in many cases and the government must plough more cash into them.

That's why it is not only important to think about what we can do to take care of our own mental health, it is also important to be open to talking about the subject with others and learning to spot the signs when someone might need a bit of help.

As we achieve success in encouraging more people to seek treatment for ill mental health we can experience pressures on service capacity. "Our counsellors are literally saving lives, and it concerns us that we can not help every child who desperately needs us", said Rantzen.

The news follows a Select Committees report from last week, which found that the government's £300m plans to improve mental health provision for children "lacks ambition and will provide no help to the majority of children who desperately need it".

"The other concern is about what support those children can then get if they have been turned down by Camhs".

"That is why are allocating £300 million, over and above the additional £1.4bn being invested in specialist services, to provide more support linked to schools".

The number of referrals to mental health services in Herts and Cambs is on the rise.

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