A new report has revealed that the majority of children who are referred for specialist mental healthcare in England are being denied the treatment they need.
Data from nearly half of the organizations within England’s National Health Service (NHS) has shown that around 60 percent of under-18s who are referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by their doctor are not receiving any treatment.
Meanwhile, the number of young people admitted to Accident and Emergency departments for self-harm increased for the seventh year running.
The vast majority of self-harm admissions were girls, accounting for 77 percent of cases over the period from 2010 to 2016. However, there has also been an increase among boys.
The figures were obtained by children’s charity Spurgeons using Freedom of Information requests.
“The facts are harrowing. At least four young people in every secondary school class are now self-harming,” said Spurgeons’ Assistant Psychologist Jag Basra. “Within the last decade we’ve seen a considerable rise in the range of mental health issues impacting young people, in part due to social media pressures and the ongoing stigma towards speaking about our mental health.
“Ultimately the long term-implications of self-harm are frightening, and in some cases fatal, and it is for this reason that addressing self-harm needs to be a major public health priority.”
Basra explained that some children and young people use self-harming as a coping strategy to manage heightened emotions. This increases the risk of recurring self-harm incidents.
Spurgeons is calling on commissioners in England and Wales to look at alternative solutions to the adolescent mental health crisis.
The charity has created a program for young people who self-harm and their families. Spurgeons’ Family Intervention for Self-Harm therapeutic program (FISH) aims to help those young people who don’t have a formal mental health diagnosis and therefore do not qualify for specialist mental health support services.
“We know these are hard times and NHS budgets have many competing priorities. We believe that charities like ours can play a crucial role in helping to safeguard these vulnerable young people," the charity's CEO Ross Hendry said. "FISH will ease the pressure on CAMHS, enabling them to increase the rates of young people they treat who are at crisis point.”