New analysis published today by the Children’s Commissioner for England finds that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are improving in most areas in the country, but the rate of progress is slow.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “It is exceptionally concerning that more than a third of children referred to mental health services are rejected. With referrals going up 26% in the last 5 years, that is tens of thousands of children being denied help. Even those that do qualify for specialist help are having to wait far too long. The Children’s Commissioner’s report shows that less than a third receive help within a year, and 32% were still on waiting lists at the end of the year.
“Teachers are on the frontline for children’s mental health. They see their pupils every day and if they are concerned enough to refer a child for help, they must be taken seriously. Early intervention is vital when it comes to mental health but the thresholds for accessing mental health support for children are too high and waiting lists are too long. Problems don’t just go away when a child is denied help – they only get worse.
“Untold numbers of children are falling through the gaps and not getting the specialist support they need. It just isn’t good enough. Schools are being left to pick up the pieces, struggling to do as much as they can to support children and their families without the expert help which is needed.
“The government is taking steps to improve mental health services for children and young people, and its mental health green paper takes the right approach. But it is doesn’t go far enough quickly enough. New funding and training isn’t going to reach the vast majority of areas for more than 5 years. Children need help now. We urge the departments of Health and Education to accelerate their plans and urgently improve access to mental health support for children and young people across the country.”
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