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Children rejected for mental health treatment.

ONE in five mentally ill children referred for NHS treatment are being rejected, new figures show.

The most common reason given is that is their condition was 'not serious enough' to reach the threshold for treatment.

Many NHS services have been forced to raise their thresholds for care because of a lack of investment in children’s mental health services in spite of soaring demand.

Among children being rejected for treatment are those with a record of abuse or neglect.

Figures from 35 mental health trusts in England revealed that, of 186,453 cases referred to them by family doctors and other professionals, 39,652 did not receive help.

Labour shadow mental health minister, Luciana Berger MP, says the figures are “shameful” and added: “No child should be denied the help or support they need. It is unacceptable that children are being turned away from treatment only to become more seriously ill.

“The Government must also be held to account for breaking its word. This year it has spent £107million less than it promised on child and adolescent mental health.

“While the Government fails to take the urgent action required to support our struggling mental health services, some of the most vulnerable children are being left suffering without the help and support they need.”

Experts say the problem with denying vulnerable children treatment means they must wait until their conditions worsen, and even become suicidal, before they are referred again by which time their illness can be more complicated to treat.

In six trusts where children had problems linked with abuse or neglect and were referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), 305 of the 1,843 cases were rejected - one in six.

NSPCC chief executive, Peter Wanless, said: “If children don’t receive the right help and support following a disclosure, the damage can last a lifetime and include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or suicidal thoughts in adulthood.

“Not addressing their needs early on is just creating a time bomb of mental health problems.”