More than 115,000 children in the South West of England who have been abused or neglected are living in an area with inadequate planning for their mental health needs, new NSPCC research estimates.
The charity analysed the latest annual plans published by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) which set out how they will care for children’s mental health, and found that 88 per cent were failing to properly plan for the needs of vulnerable children including those who had been abused.
All 195 CCGs in England were given a traffic light rating by the NSPCC and for 2017/18, 146 were rated amber and 21 were rated red. This means that an estimated 1.3 million abused children in England are living in an area with inadequate plans for their mental health needs, or with no plans for their care whatsoever.
Two thirds of CCGs in the South West of England were given amber rankings by the NSPCC last year, covering an estimated 115,412 children.
Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire’s CCGs all stagnated and remained amber after the previous year, while Bristol and Swindon were also amber.
Bath and North East Somerset, as well as Somerset, were rated green, which means they used data well to assess local need and inform service provision, whilst Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly CCG had not refreshed its plan at the time of the research.
A full breakdown of the ratings for the South West are in notes to editors.
Half of CCGs across England have stagnated and received a red or amber rating for the second year running, with no apparent improvements in planning for the mental health needs of abused children.
The NSPCC is calling on all NHS CCGs to urgently recognise and plan for the increased mental health needs of children who have been abused.
Research shows that adults who have suffered abuse in childhood are twice as likely to develop clinical depression. Early support is key to minimising the long-
term impact of mental health issues.
In 2016/17, one in three Childline counselling sessions related to mental and emotional health and wellbeing issues. In 36 per cent of Childline counselling sessions where abuse was the main concern, the young person also discussed their mental and emotional health, suicidal feelings or self-harm2.
Almudena Lara, NSPCC’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “We recognise the hard work of NHS staff providing much-needed mental health services to young people. These ratings are not a reflection on those services and the staff working to deliver them.
“But our analysis shows that there are CCGs across England that are still not properly planning for the mental health needs of abused children and young people. It is crucial these children are supported to get back on track and lead healthy lives.
“In future we want to see more CCGs not only recognise the needs of these children, but go further and ensure services are there to support them.”
NHS England has stipulated that CCGs must update their plans annually and the NSPCC is calling on all CCGs to develop clearer strategies to meet the mental health needs of children who have been abused in their 2018/19 updated plans and all future plans.