Huge increase in children needing mental health help
The number of children referred to mental health services in Sunderland has increased by 40%, according to new figures.
NHS digital data shows that in 2019/20, there were 4,490 under-18s referred to mental health services in the NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group area – a 40% increase on the previous year, when specialists dealt with 3,175 children.
However, children are waiting less time to access treatment – the average number of waiting days has fallen from 91 to 72.
The data also shows that NHS Sunderland CCG spent around £105 per child on mental health services – the national average is £66.
The Children’s Commissioner is urging the Government to introduce an NHS-funded counsellor for every school – fearing that thousands of children are being left without support and that the problem will get worse because of the effects of the pandemic
Anne Longfield says there is a lack of ambition in improving children’s mental health services.
She said: “Even before the Covid pandemic hit, we faced an epidemic of children’s mental health problems and a children’s mental health service that, though improving significantly, was still unable to provide the help hundreds of thousands of children required.
“The Government’s plans must include a rocket boost in funding for children’s mental health, to expand services.
"As an absolute minimum, all schools should be provided with an NHS-funded counsellor, either in school or online.”
Nationally, 538,564 under-18s were referred to mental health services in 2019/20 - 35% more than the previous year.