'Terrifying' rise in Notts children needing mental-health therapy

The number of children in Mansfield and Ashfield who need mental-health therapy has soared since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 12:29 pm
The number of children and young people needing mental-health treatment has rocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s according to alarming figures revealed by NHS England for the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) region.

The data, described as “terrifying” by psychiatrists, shows that 76,378 mental-health treatment sessions were delivered to under-18s by NHS services in the region, which includes Mansfield and Ashfield, between April last year and January this year.

The statistic represents a massive increase of 49.4 per cent on the same period 12 months before.

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And it reflects the trend across England, where the number of sessions rose by 16.1 per cent to about 4.1 million.

Reasons behind the trend include youngsters hit by school closures, disrupted friendships and uncertainty caused by lockdowns and Covid-related restrictions.

The figures have prompted the Royal College of Psychiatrists to warn that children and young people are at risk of lifelong mental-illness because of the crisis triggered by the pandemic.

The professional body is now calling for the £500 million announced in the government’s mental-health recovery plan to urgently reach the frontline so that support can be given.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, of the college, said: “As a frontline psychiatrist, I have seen the devastating effect that the pandemic has had on our children and young people.

"Services were already struggling to cope with the numbers needing help before the pandemic hit. Now they risk being overrun unless the government ensures the promised money reaches the frontline quickly.”

The data also shows that, in the eight months to January, 9,019 children and young people were referred to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG for mental-health support. And about 30 emergency referrals were made to the crisis care team during that period.

Across England, referrals increased by 28.1 per cent to 416,000, and emergency referrals to crisis care teams rose by 10.4 per cent to 6,000.

Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The extent of the mental-health crisis is terrifying. But it will likely get a lot worse before it gets better.

"Services are at very real risk by the sheer volume of people needing help with their mental illness.”

In response to the figures, the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG issued this statement, alongside Nottinghamshire County Council and the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust:

"We know how important mental-health support is for our children, young people and their families and carers.

"This is why service provision in the county has continually adapted during the pandemic to support children and young people.

"We have a number of services available, including some delivered via text messaging, online and phone, as well as direct support.

"Alternatively, the Nottinghamshire Mental Health Helpline is available on 0808 196 3779 any time, seven days a week, for anyone who needs emotional support or information about the help that is available locally for people struggling with their mental health.”

The services offered include an advice line for parents, carers and young people, and two confidential texting services, one for for 11-to-19-year-olds called ChatHealth and another for parents and carers.

People can also self refer themselves to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which operates a crisis helpline (0115 8440560) for young people on weekday evenings and all day at weekends.