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Children's Mental Health: Over a quarter of a million (270,300) still waiting for mental health support

The Children's Mental Health Services 2022-23 published on 15th March 2024 indicates  that over a quarter of a million (270,300) children and adolescents are currently awaiting mental health support following referrals to Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS) during the 2022-23 period.

Fresh statistics obtained from NHS England through the Children’s Commissioner’s legislative powers reveal that in 2022-23, nearly one million children and young individuals – totaling 949,200 – were referred to CYPMHS, also recognized as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). This represents 8% of England's 11.9 million children.

The annual report on children’s mental health unveils that approximately 305,000 (32%) of the referred children and young individuals received mental health support, with an average waiting period of 35 days. However, 28% (270,300) are still awaiting assistance from mental health services, while 39% (372,800) had their referrals closed prior to accessing support.

Nonetheless, many children are enduring unacceptably long waits to receive the necessary help – during the past year, nearly 40,000 children had to endure waits exceeding two years. 

“It is shocking to see so many children being referred to mental health services because they have reached crisis point. Many problems we see in children’s mental health services stem from local and national leaders failing to prioritise children’s mental health. We need fresh, long-term thinking when it comes to children’s mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Children need environments – both online and offline – where they grow up feeling happy, safe and supported, and aren’t left to feel like second class citizens when it comes to accessing mental health support.” 

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England

The Children's Commissioner is calling for:

  •  The development of a bold, strategic 10-year blueprint aimed at improving the mental health of children and young people, ensuring fewer experience mental health difficulties, and guaranteeing that those who do receive exceptional care.
  •  The reduction of waiting times for mental health services, ensuring no child is denied mental health support or waits beyond four weeks for an initial assessment of their mental health needs, followed by no more than an additional four-week wait to receive assistance.
  •  Assistance for children who do not meet the criteria for CAMHS, including through Early Support Hubs, Mental Health Support Teams, and access to school counselors.
  •  Revisions to the Mental Health Act to modernize it for the 21st century, aiming to expedite the decline in the number of children inappropriately detained and restrained in mental health hospitals, with the goal of providing support for children within their homes or communities.

Network with colleagues who are working to improve mental health services for children and young people and learn from outstanding practice in transforming CAMHS, at our virtual conferences dedicated to improving mental health support for children and young people:

CAMHS National Summit 2024 
Friday 12th July 2024, in-person in London and Virtual Conference - for more details visit www.healthcareconferencesuk.co.uk/conferences-masterclasses/camhs-national-summit







Preventing Suicide in Young People & Children
Tuesday 30th April 2024, Virtual Conference - for more details visit www.healthcareconferencesuk.co.uk/virtual-online-courses/preventing-suicide-in-young-people-children

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