Hundreds of children and young people are on the waiting list for a first appointment with a mental health professional in Bucks, shocking figures reveal.
On January 17 this year there were 435 children waiting for their first appointment with children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) across the Wycombe, Chiltern, South Bucks and Aylesbury Vale districts.
Each young person is waiting an average of 8.3 weeks before their first appointment, according to figures revealed following a freedom of information request to Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.
The news comes as the nation marks Children’s Mental Health Week – which aims to provide children with the tools to look after their minds as well as their bodies.
Last week it was revealed the number of young people from Bucks who have been treated in hospital after self-harming increased dramatically over a five-year period.
Figures published by Public Health England show 163 young people aged 10 to 24 were admitted to hospital due to self-harm in 2011/12 compared to 294 in 2016/17 – an 80 per cent increase.
Policy manager at mental health charity, Young Minds, says “too many” children are unable to access vital support from the NHS – which causes their problems to become “more complex”.
Mr Blow said: “We hear every day from young people and their families who are desperate for help with their mental health, but are left on long waiting lists or turned away due to high thresholds while their problems become worse and more complex.
“Some young people tell us that they’ve started to self-harm, become suicidal, or dropped out of school during long waits for treatment.
“The government has promised welcome extra investment to young people’s mental health services, which must make a real difference to front line services – but we also need to see action so children and young people can get early support in their communities before their problems escalate.”
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust says it is currently working to “rapidly reduce” the length of time young people are waiting for their first appointments.
Bucks has also been selected to trial improvements to CAMHS over the next two years, while the county is set to receive £2.47 million of government funding to reducing waiting times to four weeks by 2021.
Spokesman for the trust, Sara Taylor, said: “Under the Government’s Children and Young Peoples Green Paper initiative, the county is getting £2.47m to reduce waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services CAMHS to four weeks by 2021.
“This money will also support the trust to deliver new two mental health practitioner (MHP) teams into 40 primary and secondary schools in Buckinghamshire making support available to around 16,000 pupils.
“This will be delivered in partnership with Mind and Buckinghamshire County Council.”