Mental Health: Third of children denied care

31 July 2021

By Lauren E. White

More than a third of children referred to mental health services last year were turned away.

Around 73,000 of 195,000 patients were closed before treatment even began in the year 2020-21, according to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Labour Party.


It is likely that these figures actually understate the number of children denied access to the mental healthcare they need as just 22 of 45 mental health trusts actually responded to the Party’s FOI.

Freedom of Information requests can be sent by anyone to public bodies such as healthcare trusts. Legally and within certain conditions, these bodies are obliged to respond to the request.

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Earlier this year, Beep reported how a recent investigation found that some children in England and Wales are waiting up to four years for access to mental health services.

These statistics are particularly concerning given their occurrence during a pandemic, where most children and young people have missed out on months of school.

In their autumn 2020 Covid-19 survey, Young Minds found that just 27% of students had a one-to-one conversation with a member of school staff where they were asked about their well-being.

69% of students in the survey said that their mental health was poor when they returned to classrooms.


Just last week Beep reported on a new study examining the harm lockdowns have caused to our children and young people. The study found that school closures caused “considerable harm” to both the physical and mental health of children.

As many as 60% of boys and 47% of girls have been experiencing anxiety, while other students were reported to have developed depression, restlessness, inattention in class, and behavioural problems.

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The government maintains that it is spending extra cash on mental health in schools. Minister for Mental Health Nadine Dorries said that the government is providing an extra £2.3 billion to help an additional 345,000 children and young people access NHS-funded services, or school-based support.

Responding to the funding boost, charity Young Minds said that “with a rising scale of need, and hundreds of young people still unable to access support, the government must also look beyond the NHS to provide non-clinical, preventative support locally” for young people.

In the Spring budget this year, the only mental health spending commitment was an additional £10 million for veterans’ mental health, despite the increased demand for funding not just in young people’s services, but adults too.

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