Sharp rise in number of children referred to mental health services in Bassetlaw
The number of children and young people referred to mental health services in Bassetlaw has increased by more than 20 per cent in a year, figures reveal.
Now, the Children’s Commissioner for England, is urging the Government to introduce an NHS-funded counsellor for every school among fears that thousands of children are being left without support.
NHS digital data shows that in 2019-20, 850 under-18s were referred to mental health services across NHS Bassetlaw CCG.
This was a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.
However, children are waiting less time to access treatment with the average number of waiting days down from 51 to 50.
Of the total number of children referred to mental health services, 170 were seen within six weeks.
However, 70 had to wait longer than 12 weeks, while 280 children saw their referral closed before treatment.
These children may not have required specialist treatment, they may have been referred to services funded by non-NHS organisations or chosen not to enter treatment.
The data provided does not specify why a referral was closed.
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said there was a lack of ambition in improving children’s mental health services, despite numerous Government announcements.
She continued: “Even before the Covid pandemic, we faced an epidemic of children’s mental health problems in England and a children’s mental health service that, though improving significantly, was still unable to provide the help hundreds of thousands of children required.
“The Government’s plans must include a rocket boost in funding for children’s mental health, to expand services and eliminate the postcode lottery.
“As an absolute minimum, all schools should be provided with an NHS-funded counsellor, either in school or online.”
The data also shows that NHS Bassetlaw CCG spent around £61 per child on mental health services – the national average is £66.
Coun Judith Blake, chairman of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “The pandemic has exacerbated existing mental health problems, particularly for children living in families with lower incomes and whose parents may be experiencing financial difficulties.
“Local councils have a vital role in helping children have mentally healthy childhoods and mental health needs to be at the heart of a holistic approach to overall health and wellbeing.”