There is an ever growing concern in the UK around our child mental health “crisis”. It only takes a quick internet search to see the many editorials reporting on the problems surrounding child mental health. Most recently, articles have stated the following:
“Only a third of children and young people with mental health conditions receive the treatment they need from the NHS, a committee of MPs says.”
“One in eight children in England have a mental health disorder, NHS report reveals”.
“Unmet support needs can put children at risk and affect their success in later life, the authors of a NHS Digital report said”
“At least 55,800 children were denied access to child and adolescent mental health services in England despite being referred last year amid cuts to services, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) says.”
It appears a child’s mental health needs are not being dealt with until they have reached critical level. Once referred for treatment, children can be left waiting an average of 34 days just for an assessment and 60 days before they may receive any treatment. In some areas, these waiting times are more than tripled!
If this crisis is not dealt with, difficulties may continue into adult life and further generations will go through the same process. It is already estimated that £35 billion is lost to business each year as a direct result of supporting mental health issues in the work place. More and more companies are now training Mental Health First Aiders to help to deal with the problem.
Could something as simple as a child receiving a copy of At Times I Get These Feelings be enough of a stop-gap to help those who need it? Something to work on with those close to the child, something that may help open up conversations that were not already happening. One Mental Wellbeing Lead at a school in Hampshire has suggested that every child in the country should have a copy of this book; whether they are in need of mental health support or not. Knowing that children who are being referred for help may never actually receive it, is so desperately sad.