NHS Figures Reveal Mental Health Services Are Failing Children


The Law Of... ensuring children receive the care they need

NHS figures have revealed that in some parts of England 4 in 5 children with mental health problems are being denied access to treatment they urgently need, while the figure for children and young adults across the entirety of England sits at 6 in 10 children.

NHS Figures Reveal Mental Health Services Are Failing Children

Responding to the figures Emma Pearmaine, Director of Simpson Millar's Family Services, and Daxa Patel, Solicitor on Simpson Millar's medical negligence team, outline how a duty of care to a vulnerable group in our society is being disregarded.

Failing The Next Generation

The figures, which were obtained by GP website Pulse, outline a serious failure to support under 18s with problems such as anxiety and depression.

With children and young people increasingly affected by mental health issues the report comes at a time of great uncertainty for young people affected by mental health problems. Recent statistics have shown that:

  • 3 children in every classroom have a diagnosed mental illness
  • Over half of all adults with mental health problem were diagnosed in childhood, less than half of these did not receive the correct treatment at the time
  • The average onset age for depression has fallen from 45 in the 1960s to just 14 today
  • Nearly 80,000 under 18s suffer from severe depression

Gathering the numbers from a Freedom of Information Act, Pulse reported that 61% of children and young people referred for help from the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in 2015 did not receive further treatment.

This figure fluctuates depending on the local NHS foundation trust, with some areas only providing 20% of the young people referred from CAMHS with further treatment.

Lack Of Support For Mental Health Services

Possible reasons for the lack of support for young people with mental health problems could be a lack of funding, with resources for CAMHS cut by £85m since 2010.

Daxa Patel, a Solicitor and former Carer, explains why the duty of care for looking after children with mental health issues falls to the Government, who could be doing more to provide resources for struggling services:

"Children are a vulnerable group and should not be ignored. The government really needs to ensure that the NHS have the resources to treat these patients with due care and to stop turning them away."

"With NHS resources stretched thin these sorts of issues can arise and it's important that they do not become the norm especially as delayed, or complete or lack of, support to a mentally ill young person can have tragic consequences such as self-harm, aggression, and even suicide."

"Sadly, we see too many cases where the concerns over a child’s mental health illness was not taken seriously or where a diagnosis was made too late to make a difference. Focused medical care and support for the mentally vulnerable is a must and should not be seen as an optional practice."

Family Role In Mental Health

With NHS services unable to support children and young people with mental health problems it is increasingly becoming the job of alternative support networks, including families and schools.

In many cases this support is invaluable to young people suffering mental health problems, however in some instances it is these apparent support networks that could compound the issue, as Emma explains:

"Some children can suffer mental health issues and anxieties as a result of family breakdown, with issues at home often transferring to the classroom."

"Parental conflict can exacerbate a child's anxiety and conflicts at home can lead to children developing depression and becoming part of this worrying trend."

"Parents involved in conflicts can often become caught up in the wider issues involved, namely the root cause of a separation, however it is crucial that they consider their children and try to shield them from their personal conflicts."

"While it will not improve the overall figures reported here, conflicting parents setting aside their differences to take a collaborative approach to resolve disputes about where children live and how much time they spend with each parent could go a long way of reducing the psychological affect a separation could have on a child."

"We have a team of specialist lawyers both in Family Law and Medical Negligence dedicated to helping the vulnerable. If you know of anyone who needs support and advice we would be happy to help."

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