NHS refuses help for children with mental health issues because they are not considered sick enough

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NHS denies help to children for mental health issues because they are not considered sick enough to be treated, GPs say

  • Under-18s with an eating disorder or psychosis are also being denied care by the overwhelmed NHS as they are ‘not considered sick enough’ to warrant treatment
  • A survey of 1,001 GPs across the UK has revealed the state of mental health services
  • Experts warn of inability to access care leading to further deterioration of mental health, leading to self-harm, school dropout and help-seeking at A&E

Children who are anxious, depressed or self-harming are being denied help from overwhelmed NHS mental health teams, GPs have said.

Even those under the age of 18 with an eating disorder or psychosis are denied care because they are not considered sick enough to warrant treatment.

In one case, a crisis team in Wales would not immediately assess the mental health of an actively suicidal child, who had been prevented from jumping from a building earlier in the day, unless the GP told make a written recommendation.

The shocking state of NHS Child and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is laid bare in a survey of 1,001 GPs across the UK for youth mental health charity stem4 .

mental health teams, GPs have said (file photo)” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Children who are anxious, depressed or self-harming are being denied help from overwhelmed NHS mental health teams, GPs have said (file photo)

CAMHS teams were already unable to cope before the pandemic, but have become even more overstretched due to its impact on the mental health of young people.

The poll results, revealed by the Guardian, show that in some areas it takes children and young people two years after being referred by their GP to start receiving help.

Experts say the widespread inability of young people to access care causes their mental health to deteriorate further, then leads to self-harm, dropping out of school and seeking help at A&E.

Nearly one in five physicians surveyed (18%) know of a patient who has attempted suicide or committed suicide after being denied treatment.

A handful of GPs even said the situation was so bad they had given up on referring young people to CAMHS altogether and instead asked them to go to A&E, even though it was not appropriate.

A family doctor from Yorkshire and the Humber said: ‘It is so appalling in our area that it may as well not exist.

Dr. Nihara Krause, consultant clinical psychologist and founder of stem4, described the wait times as “truly shocking”.

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