THE number of children referred for mental health treatment from education settings in Solihull and Birmingham has risen by over a quarter in the last year.
And the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has called on the government for increased funding.
Figures obtained by the NSPCC – a national children’s charity – show that there were 1,242 referrals to NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) in the region in 2017/18.
This has risen by around a quarter on the previous year – which saw 938 referrals.
The NSPCC claims this could be a result of a lack of funding and services to support children in those settings.
These referrals are managed by the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
It also says too many children are being turned away after seeking support – with nearly a third in the UK denied specialist treatment.
In the Midlands, schools seeking professional help for pupils from CAMHS made 15,379 referrals since 2014/15.
The NSPCC is warning increased demand for support across specialist CAMHS, schools and the voluntary sector is placing the system under real pressure, jeopardising the well-being of thousands of children.
The NSPCC is now calling on the government with its ‘Are You There?’ campaign to invest some of this funding into early support services for children.
The NSPCC’s Childline service has seen a 26 per cent increase in counselling sessions with children about mental health issues over the past four years.
Some young people have told Childline that they only received specialist support when they reached crisis point, and have even asked Childline counsellors to act on their behalf to get help quicker.
A 17-year-old girl told Childline: “I suffer with anxiety and panic attacks and find it difficult to leave the house or get out of bed. I was referred to CAMHS but I was on a waiting list for 8 months and during that time my anxiety got worse so I never went because I was too scared.”
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC 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 Government urgently provides more funding to Childline and help children who don’t have access to support elsewhere.”