Worrying rise in children referred for mental health treatment in the Thames Valley

Mental health library image
Mental health library image

The number of pupils referred by their schools for mental health treatment across the Thames Valley has risen by more than 1,500 in three years, figures reveal.

Figures unearthed by the NSPCC found 3,496 pupils were referred by their school to specialist mental health services in 2017/18 compared with 1,884 in 2014/15.

Out of the 8,065 pupils referred to Oxford’s trust, 1,160 were classed as “not eligible for treatment”.

However the number of young people across the Thames Valley who were not provided with treatment is likely to be higher, as the Berkshire trust failed to provide figures for those who did not qualify for treatment.

Across the country schools seeking professional help for pupils from the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) shot up by a third in the last three years.

A total of 56 per cent of referrals made across the country came from primary schools – which has been blamed by the NSPCC on a lack of funding and services to support children in those areas.

Chief executive of the NSPCC Peter Wanless said: “Our research shows schools are increasingly referring children for specialist mental health treatment, often when the child is at crisis point.

“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 that the Government urgently provides more funding to Childline and help children who don’t have access to support elsewhere.”

Zoe Sole, from Bucks Mind said: “Buckinghamshire Mind works with children and young people across two services, counselling for young people ages 11-17 and our Peer Support in Schools programme which includes education and training around mental health.

“Despite mental health being at the forefront of public awareness more so than ever before, we find there are still a number of young people, and adults, who lack awareness and understanding.

“Subsequently, many individuals are referred to services once their mental health has already seriously deteriorated.

“Our work helps raise awareness, reduce stigma and subsequently normalise talking about mental health, so that when someone does become unwell they are able to seek help.”