The number of children in mental health crisis has reached record levels in England, analysis of NHS data by the mental health charity YoungMinds shows.
For the first time, urgent referrals of under-18s to mental health crisis teams reached more than 3,500 in May, three times higher than in May 2019. And in the year to March 2023 there were 21,555 urgent referrals to mental health crisis teams, up 46% on 2022, the charity found. These are children with the most acute mental health symptoms, who might otherwise need to go to hospital for psychosis, severe self-harm or suicide attempts.
In addition to the 3,732 urgent referrals, the NHS monthly data reveals that the number of children and young people undergoing treatment or waiting to start care also reached new records, with 466,250 open referrals to children and young people’s mental health services (CAMHS) in May.
Laura Bunt, the chief executive of YoungMinds, said the figures were “indicative of a system that is broken. We are now in a mental health emergency and the government must get a grip on the scale of this crisis. Many young people are having to wait months and years to access help, while many others are told they don’t meet the threshold for a referral to mental health services. No young person should be left waiting for help while their mental health worsens.”
Dr Elaine Lockhart, the chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ faculty of child and adolescent psychiatry, said the mental health crisis was having “a devastating impact on the wellbeing of our children and young people”. “Services are doing their best to meet this rise in demand for treatment but a lack of staff and resources is making it difficult for them to see patients quickly. This is contributing to a harmful spiral in which many young people are being placed on long waiting lists, which can lead to their symptoms becoming more serious over time and them eventually presenting to services in crisis.” Article courtesy of The Guardian.
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