One in four young people with mental health referral ‘rejected’

Posted: January 13th 2020

One in four young people with mental health referral 'rejected'

I know from a dialogue with colleagues in several rural counties that the issue of mental health referrals is particularly acute in rural settings. This story tells us:

One in four children and young people referred to mental health services in England last year were not accepted for treatment, according to data, raising concerns that many are still failing to get vital support at an early stage.

Research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) estimated that more than 130,000 of those referred to specialist services in 2018-19 were “rejected”, among them young people who have self-harmed, suffered eating disorders and experienced abuse.

According to the EPI, rejection rates have remained unchanged over the last four years, despite government commitments to address shortages in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), including an additional £1.4bn investment between 2015 and 2021.

The research also revealed significant regional variations, with services in London rejecting 17% of referrals on average, compared with 28% in the south, the Midlands and the east, and 22% in the north.

Providers said treatment was not given mainly because children’s conditions were not suitable, or were not serious enough to meet the threshold. The average median waiting time to begin treatment has fallen by 11 days since 2015, but children still had to wait an average of two months.

David Laws, EPI’s executive chairman, lamented the lack of progress. “Young people continue to be deprived of access to specialist mental health treatment, despite the government claiming significant investment in mental health services over the past five years.