Increase in mental health referrals from schools

Referrals rise yet one third are denied CAMHS treatment

Published on 15th May 2018

There has been a huge rise in the number of schools referring children for mental health treatment, yet many young people fail to get the help and support they need.

The number of referrals by schools seeking mental health treatment for pupils has risen by more than a third in the last three years, a Freedom of Information request by the NSPCC has found.

Where information was provided about the outcome of the referral, almost one third were declined specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services treatment.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, 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 and emotional health, and many turn to us when they are struggling to get access to specialist treatment,” he added.

The FOI request found that 123,713 referrals were made by schools seeking professional mental health support between 2014/15 and 2017/18. It showed that 56% of referrals were made by primary schools and, on average, 183 referrals were made per school day in 2017/18.

NSPCC warns that a rising demand for mental health support across the NHS, schools and the voluntary sector is placing the system under increased pressure, jeopardising the well-being of thousands of children and young people.

It follows a joint report by the education and health and social care committees which criticised the government’s proposals to transform children and young people’s mental health services as unambitious and failing to help young people who need support.

At the beginning of 2018, the NSPCC launched the Are you there? campaign, calling on the government to invest funding into early support services for children.

Childline has seen a 26% increase in the number of counselling sessions from children regarding mental and emotional health issues in the last four years but Childline counsellors can only respond to 3 out of 4 children who need help.

Peter Wanless concluded: “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.”


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