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Mental health treatment ‘is denied to one in 4 children’

ALMOST a quarter of children — including some who self-harmed or suffered abuse — were turned away from mental health services last year, a report finds.

It comes as referrals to child and adolescent mental health services in England rose 26 per cent in five years, the Education Policy Institute said.

Report author Whitney Crenna-Jennings said: ‘As many as one in every four children referred is denied access to specialist mental health services, often because their condition is not deemed serious enough to warrant treatment.

‘Those excluded from treatment include children and young people that have self-harmed or experienced abuse.

‘With a significant number of local authorities phasing out crucial services that offer alternative support, these children may find it increasingly difficult to access any formal help.’ It is estimated at least 55,800 children were not accepted into treatment in 2017/18. Kevin Courtney, joint head of the National Education Union, called the findings ‘distressing’.

He added: ‘Schools witness on a daily basis the costs of the government’s decimation of mental health services and the misery caused to families and children and young people in need of professional mental health support.’

Barnardo’s Javed Khan said: ‘Urgent action must be taken to stop us sleepwalking ever further into a children’s mental health crisis.’

The Department of Health and Social Care said it was allocating an extra £1.4billion for children’s mental health services ‘to ensure 70,000 more a year have access to specialist care by 2020/21’. It was also improving access to mental health services through schools ‘with a brand new dedicated workforce’.