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NHS data shows a rise in number of young people undergoing or awaiting treatment for mental health problems

Latest NHS data shows the number of children and young people in England undergoing treatment or waiting to start care – reached 420,314 in February, the highest number since records began in 2016.

Responding to today’s announcement, Whitney Crenna-Jennings, Associate Director for Wellbeing and Inclusion, EPI, said:   

“Today’s data shows that the number of children and young people requiring specialist mental health services is at its highest number since records began in 2016.

Yet many children with serious mental health struggles are turned away from specialist services. EPI research found that prior to the pandemic, over a quarter of young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services were not accepted into treatment. There is an ongoing urgent need for early intervention services which families everywhere can access.

Meanwhile, the government is attempting to address long-standing weaknesses in children’s social care and the special educational needs support system. 

While a focus on improving the services that support vulnerable children is welcome, the government must also address drivers of the rise in child vulnerability, including increasing poverty and the cost of living crisis. The evidence linking poverty with family conflict, harm to children, special needs and disabilities, and mental ill-health is clear. Not doing so will mean that the number of young people who require costly, and less effective, late intervention services will only continue to grow.”

NUS Vice-President for Higher Education Hillary Gyebi-Ababio said:

“I’m deeply concerned about the mental health crisis, which is getting worse for students and young people. We know from our research that the majority of students are burdened with anxiety, often feeling overlooked by those in power and unsupported when it comes to having their needs addressed. The Government is failing a generation.

“Students have been campaigning for university welfare services to improve for many years now, and although we’ve seen additional funding for institutions as a result of our efforts, there is still so much progress to be made. Universities are not separate from wider society. A commitment to fully funding the NHS is absolutely vital, so that waiting lists and costs for mental health services, medication, GP letters and diagnosis tests cease to be a barrier for anyone. They must also urgently commit to providing early support hubs which would prevent thousands from reaching crisis point, and remove the pressures of competition, financial barriers and discrimination from our education system so that these issues can be tackled at the root”.

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