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  1. ITV Report

North West mental health services reject thousands of children for treatment

NSPCC says record numbers of children are calling Childline over mental health issues Photo: ITV Granada

Thousands of children referred to mental health services in the North West have been rejected for treatment, according to NSPCC. The children's charity says 12,210 of the 85,920 children referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the North West in 2016/17 were turned away. The figures come from Freedom of Information requests to Clinical Commissioning Groups.

NSPCC says mental and emotional health is now the most common reason for a child to contact its telephone helpline, Childline. The service carried out 63,622 counselling sessions across England in 2016/17.

"It is desperately sad to see so many young people facing distress around mental health issues being forced to wait months for assessment by CAMHS, many of whom are then rejected for treatment altogether. This risks leaving them in limbo while their condition potentially reaches crisis point.

"We recognise the hard work of mental health professionals in trying to help young people get their lives back on track. However, too many children who need help are struggling access support and treatment which can help them to recover."

– Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive

NSPCC says its findings also paint a worrying picture of a postcode lottery of waiting times, with the average waiting time across England ranging between just two days in some areas to more than five and a half months in others. The average waiting time was eight weeks. The charity's previous research has found that an increasing demand for services means many young people, including those who have suffered sexual abuse and neglect, do not meet the clinical threshold to access CAMHS and are turned away from treatment. It is calling on the Government to shift the focus of children and young people's mental health services towards early intervention, to ensure that young people's mental health does not have to reach crisis point before they are able to get help.