School referrals for mental heath treatment in Herts and Cambs on the rise
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There has been a steady rise in the number of referrals by schools in Herts and Cambs seeking mental health treatment for pupils since 2014.
The figures – which are the results of a Freedom of Information request to NHS trusts in England by children’s charity the NSPCC – have been released today, the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week.
The NSPCC found schools in England seeking professional help for pupils from NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – CAMHS – made 123,713 referrals since 2014/15.
The true figure is unknown as some NHS trusts were not able to provide statistics.
Overall, the number of referrals to CAMHS has steadily increased each year since 2014/15, reaching 34,757 in 2017/18 – the equivalent of 183 every school day in England.
In the east of England, schools made 7,881 referrals to CAMHS, but almost a third of these were deemed ineligible for treatment.
The Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust has received more than 1,000 referals from schools for pupils since 2014.
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The numbers have been increasing year on year – in 2014/15 the total was 159, and in 2017/18, the total was 344.
The total number of referrals for the years since 2014 – all of which run from April 1 to March 31 – was 1,069.
The number of referrals since 2014 who were not eligible for treatment at the trust was 443 and the total not eligible in each year has increased – there were 62 cases in 2014/15 and 204 in 2017/2018.
The Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust has seen a decline in referrals from 150 in 2014/15 to 97 in 2015/16, 79 in 2016/17, and 43 in 2017/18 – the most recent figures.
The number of referrals who were not eligible for treatment has decreased from 60 in 2014/15 to 19 in 2017/18.
There has been a steady increase in the number of pupils being referred to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust – the figure stood at 250 in 2014/15, and was 453 in 2017/2018.
The number of ineligible cases in the last year was 153.
The total number of referrals since 2014 was 1,305. Ineligible cases stood at 429.
The NSPCC has warned that increased demand for support across specialist CAMHS, schools and the voluntary sector is placing the system under real pressure, “jeopardising the well-being of thousands of children”.
Nearly a third of referrals from schools to CAMHS, for Trusts across England who were able to provide the information, over the last three years were declined treatment as they did not meet the criteria for support.
The NSPCC said some young people had told Childline that they only received specialist support when they reached crisis point, and have even asked Childline counsellors to act on their behalf to get help quicker.
The charity is now calling upon the government with their ‘Are You There?’ campaign to invest some of this funding into early support services for children. The NSPCC’s Childline service has seen a 26-per-cent increase in the number of counselling sessions with children about mental health issues over the past four years.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “Our research shows schools are increasingly referring children for specialist mental health treatment, often when the child is at crisis point.
“Telephone support service Childline plays a vital role in supporting children with their mental health, and many turn to us when they are struggling to get access to specialist treatment. Early counselling from Childline could also help relieve the pressure on CAMHS.
“We have seen a marked increase in counselling about mental health, and fully expect it to continue. It is vital the government urgently provides more funding to Childline and help children who don’t have access to support elsewhere.”
Dame Esther Rantzen, founder and president of Childline, said: “Young people are telling us they are overwhelmed with mental health issues, such depression and anxiety, which is taking many of them to the brink of suicide.
“Our counsellors are literally saving lives, and it concerns us that we cannot help every child who desperately needs us.
“We must make sure that Childline is adequately funded so it isn’t left vulnerable and can be there for the children who have nowhere else to turn.”
Mental Health Awareness Week – spearheaded by the Mental Health Foundation – runs from today until Sunday. It raises awareness of all aspects of mental health, and this year’s particular focus is stress. Go to www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week for more information.