More and more children in the county are being treated for mental health illnesses – but campaigners say there is ‘still a very long way to go’ to help kids in need.
A total of 15,080 children under the age of 18 in Lancashire accessed NHS-funded community mental health treatments in 2018/19 – new NHS figures reveal.
That works out as an average of 41 children a day.
This is a significant increase from recent years when a total of 12,950 children accessed services in 2017/18.
A five-year ‘forward view for mental health’ was launched by the NHS in a bid to increase access for young people to mental health services in 2016/17.
Plans have been outlined to help an extra 70,000 children across England to access appropriate mental health support by next year.
If successful it would mean an estimated 35 per cent of all children with a diagnosable mental health condition would be receiving treatment by 2020/21.
Campaigners say the target is not nearly enough, with two in every three children across England with a mental health condition still missing out on help.
A House of Commons’ report published last December said: “Most young people with a mental health condition do not get the treatment they need, and under current NHS plans this will still be true for years to come, while many face unacceptably long waits for treatment.”
Sam Royston from The Children’s Society said: “We know that the NHS has historically only responded to around a fifth of children with mental health conditions.
“Due to recent investment the NHS does now support around 30% of young people so you could say a small amount of progress has been made but clearly there is still a very long way to go.
“Our latest research found that hundreds of thousands of 10-17 year olds are referred to specialist child mental health services each year but as many as three in five are being turned away as they don’t meet the high treatment thresholds.
“These children are being left to fend for themselves without support and are at risk of reaching crisis. “We also worry about the children that don’t seek help at all.
“As well as more support in schools and the NHS we want more open access mental health drop-in centres available in local communities where young people can turn up and receive immediate support without an appointment.
“It’s important young people are listened to and are able to find help easily and at an early stage so their mental health concerns can be addressed promptly and they aren’t forced to suffer in silence.”
Today’s figures refer to kids who have had at least two face to face or indirect contacts with mental health professionals.
Indirect contacts include things like telephone calls.
A report from the children’s mental health charity Young Minds found that the longer children were left to wait for support, the more likely their mental health would worsen.
Some 85 per cent of parents whose children had waited more than six months for treatment said that their children’s mental health had deteriorated, including 64 per cent who said that their children’s mental health had deteriorated “a lot”.
Nationally, 377,866 children accessed community mental health treatment in 2018/19 – up from 324,724 recorded in 2017/18.
Claire Murdoch, NHS National Mental Health Director, said: “This is a breakthrough moment with heroic staff treating a record high number of children, meaning tens of thousands more young people received vital treatment last year, and shows the NHS is ahead of schedule to treat an additional 345,000 children and young people as part of our Long Term Plan.
“The NHS is successfully turning the tide on young people’s mental health and addressing years of unmet demand, and while today’s news is good for thousands of families, we know there is more to do – in partnership with families, charities, councils, schools and government – to give every child the support they need.”