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Almost 70,000 children missing out on mental health treatment

Almost 70,000 children are missing out on mental health care they should be eligible to receive as the NHS falls short of key targets, The Independent has revealed.

An internal analysis, seen by The Independent, shows in England the NHS has fallen short of a target, set in 2019, for 818,000 children to receive at least one treatment session from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in 2023.

The actual number of children who received treatment in the 12 months to December was 749,833, falling short of the target by around 9%.

The figures came as the government announced this week it would expand the number of early access mental health hubs for children to cover 50% of the country by 2025. However, campaigners urged ministers to commit to covering the entire country to help “turn the tide on the crisis” in children’s mental health services.

The NHS analysis shows, as of December, CAMHS in the South West was furthest away from its targets with 78% of children seen out of those eligible. In London, 80% of the target was achieved and in the North West 105%.

Laura Bunt, chief executive at YoungMinds, said: “Referrals to mental health services are at a record high with more young people than ever in need of support with their mental health. We know that many young people are struggling in the aftermath of the pandemic, facing intense academic pressure to catch up on lost learning, a cost of living crisis and increasing global instability.

“Every young person should be able to access mental health support when they need it, but too many don’t get it until things get much worse.  Services continue to be significantly underfunded and the number of young people receiving treatment falls woefully short of what is needed. To turn the tide on this crisis, the government must prioritise young people and their mental health by investing in prevention and early intervention.”

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Source: The Independent, 2 March 2024


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