Mental health crisis in Essex schools

Photo: NSPCC

Referrals up

Schools in Essex are referring more and more schoolchildren for mental health treatment.
The number of referrals by schools seeking mental health treatment for troubled pupils has shot up by over a third in the last three years, the NSPCC has revealed.

These worrying stats have come out in conjunction with Mental health awareness week, which is from May 14 to May 20.

Worryingly most referrals 56 per cent came from primary schools. This could be a result of a lack of funding and services to support children in those settings.

A 17-year-old girl who goes to school in Basildon said: “I suffer with anxiety and panic attacks and find it difficult to leave the house or get out of bed. I was referred to NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) but I was on a waiting list for 8 months and during that time my anxiety got worse so I never went because I was too scared.

“I was struggling to go to school and my education really suffered as did my friendships and social life.”

The NSPCC is warning that increased demand for support across specialist CAMHS, schools and the voluntary sector is placing the system under real pressure, jeopardising the well-being of thousands of children.

This has shone a light on the urgent need for a broader range of support for children’s mental health needs.

The NSPCC is now calling on the Government with their Are You There? campaign to invest some of this funding into early support services for children.

The NSPCC’s Childline service has seen a 26 per cent increase in the number of counselling sessions with children about mental health issues over the past four years.

Crisis

One Headteacher who does not want to be named said: “Schools including ours are increasingly referring children for specialist mental health treatment, often when the child is at crisis point.

“A marked increase in counselling about mental health has been noticed, with expectancy of this to continue. It is vital that the Government urgently provides more funding to Childline and help children who don’t have access to support elsewhere for example at home.

“Young people are expressing they are overwhelmed with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, which is taking many of them to the brink of suicide.

“It concerns us that across Essex, we cannot help every child who desperately needs it.

“More money is needed for more available help and a support system to be in place who can be there for the children who have nowhere else to turn.”

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