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Urgent action needed to ensure children and young people can access the mental health services they need.

BASW comment on report that finds 133,000 young people referred to specialist mental health services in England were rejected in 2018-19.

Research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has found that 133,000 young people referred to specialist mental health services in England were rejected in 2018-19, despite increased government investment and that referral rates vary considerably across the country.

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) published its Annual Report on access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), Friday 10th January 2020.

The study examines access to specialist services, waiting times for treatment, and provision for the most vulnerable children in England.

Maris Stratulis, National Director, BASW England said:

“We need to urgently understand why there is so much variation across the country in terms children and young people accessing mental health services, waiting times and what action government will take if the national waiting time target is not met.

“The importance of a seamless and joined up approach for young people in transition from children to adult services is imperative to ensure young people do not fall through the gap between children and adult social care and mental health services, including all children and young people who are looked after.

“The Care Review announced by the Secretary of State for Education must look at a whole system approach including the role and functions of Social Care and Health commissioning, national variation and put the needs of children and families at the heart of the review.”

Key findings of the report: 

  • One in four children (26%) referred to specialist mental health services in England were rejected in 2018-19, despite increased government investment. This is a total of around 133,000 young people. Young people unable to access services include those who have self-harmed, experienced abuse, or have conditions such as eating disorders.
  • Rejection rates vary considerably across the country: in London 17% of children referred to specialist services were rejected, while in the Midlands, East and South, rates are as high as 28%.
  • For those that are able to access children’s mental health services, average waiting times for treatment are two months – twice the government’s target. In some areas of England, children typically wait as long as six months before they can access treatment.
  • The government is unlikely to succeed in meeting its national CAMHS waiting time target of four weeks by 2022-23.

The research is based on new data obtained using freedom of information (FOI) requests to mental health providers and local authorities over the course of a year. This data is not published by the NHS.

 

 

Further information