31 May 2016
'Russian Roulette' Over Kids' Mental Health Care


Subject: 'Russian Roulette' Over Kids' Mental Health Care


A new report says many children are waiting too long - or missing out altogether - on vital mental health support.

Thousands of children in need of mental health support - including some who attempted suicide - are being turned away from the NHS, claims a new report.

A review of mental health services by the Children's Commissioner found nearly a quarter of a million children were referred for specialist treatment last year.

But more than a quarter of those were refused, mainly on the grounds that their illness was not yet serious enough to merit help.

Mental health

The report found some suicidal children are being turned away from support

Commissioner Anne Longfield has accused Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), the NHS body responsible for young people's mental health services, of "playing Russian roulette" with young lives.

She also said the waiting times for accessing some services was far too long.

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"We know that the longer you leave it, the more dangers there are to children," she told Sky News. 

"If there are serious conditions - we're looking at potential suicide, psychosis, very serious conditions - then the longer you leave it, the more of a lottery you're playing with children's health."

Average waiting times ranged from 14 days in a trust in northwest England to 200 days at one in the West Midlands.

An NHS England spokesman said: "While the data in this report does not substantiate the conclusions drawn, it is clearly the case that CAMHS services need to expand and the additional £1.4bn pledged will help us to do that."

A spokesman for the Government said the new funding would help deal with the significant demand for help.

"No-one should have to wait too long for mental health care, or be sent away in need," the spokesman said.

"This investment is just beginning, and is creating new joined-up plans to improve care in the community and schools to make sure young people get support before they reach a crisis point."

The Commissioner's report is based on data obtained from 48 of England's 60 child and adolescent mental health service trusts.



Sky News