Schools increasingly seek mental health support for pupils

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The number of troubled pupils being referred for mental health treatment by schools has risen by more than a third in the last three years, the NSPCC has revealed.

Schools in England seeking professional help for pupils from NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have made 123,713 referrals since 2014, including 35,069 referrals from schools in the North of England.

The founder of Childline Dame Esther Rantzen said the service must be adequately funded to make sure schoolchildren have somewhere to turn to when their wellbeing is suffering.

The founder of Childline Dame Esther Rantzen said the service must be adequately funded to make sure schoolchildren have somewhere to turn to when their wellbeing is suffering.

The figures, which were obtained via a Freedom of Information request to NHS Trusts, show that 56 per cent of referrals came from primary schools.

Overall the number of referrals to CAMHS from schools has increased each year since 2014, reaching 34,757 in 2017; the equivalent of 183 every school day, and up from 25,150 in 2014. In the North, some 10,051 referrals were made in the last year, up from 7,352 in 2014 and the equivalent of 53 every school day last year.

Greater demand for support is also reported by the NSPCC’s Childline service which has seen a 26 per cent spike in the number of counselling sessions it held with children about mental health issues over the last four years.

The charity has called for more Whitehall investment in early support services for children.

The plea follows a damning report by MPs last week that found that the Government’s £300m plans to improve mental health provision for children “lacks ambition and will provide no help to the majority of children who desperately need it”.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “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.”

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder and president of Childline, added: “Young people are telling us they are overwhelmed with mental health issues, such depression and anxiety, which is taking many of them to the brink of suicide.

“We must make sure that Childline is adequately funded so it isn’t left vulnerable and can be there for the children who have nowhere else to turn.”