Childhood Mental Health Support October 2016

Thank you for contacting me regarding mental health support following abuse.

I share your concern that many young people who have suffered abuses are not receiving adequate mental health care and post-trauma support in a timely manner.  Studies have shown that abuse and neglect suffered in childhood have profound and long-lasting impacts on young people if appropriate support is not provided in a timely manner.  But too often children who have been abused and are in need of therapeutic support are denied supportive mental health care.

In a recent survey of over 1,000 professionals engaged in the post-abuse care process, over 50% said that children are finding it increasingly difficult to access vital care needed due to tighter criteria by local NHS mental health services. Many times children in desperate need of care are forced to wait more than 5 months before then can get specialist support; this is too long for children suffering from abuse to face depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts without any professional help.

These findings confirm a study last year which showed that one in five children referred to the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were rejected for treatment. In fact, according to 35 Mental Health Trusts across England of the 186,453 children referred by general practitioners, 39,652 did not receive the care that they needed. This is an abhorrent moral failure, children must have access to mental health support following abuse.

The Conservative Government has failed to provide for, and protect, this vulnerable population after they have suffered abuse. The Government must reform children’s mental health services, and pay specific attention to improving support for children who've been abused or neglected. Plans drafted by local NHS commissioners must describe how the Government’s £1.4bn investment in children’s mental health services will benefit vulnerable children who have suffered from neglect or abuse. Every year more than half a million children in the UK are abused, while many disclose this abuse far fewer received adequate treatment and support. It is time that the Conservative Government provide the therapeutic services needed.

I agree that there must be increased funding for children’s support services for those who’ve suffered from abuse, that the Government must produce clear guidelines on when therapeutic support is available to children, and that there must be more research into the scale of child abuse in our communities.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me regarding mental health support following abuse. I will continue to advocate for increased access and treatment options for childhood abuse victims when these discussions arise in Parliament.