One in five children with mental health issues are rejected for treatment, according to analysis of official data by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
Statistics from 35 Mental Health Trusts across England show that of a total of 186,453 cases referred by GPs and other professionals, 39,652 children did not receive help.
This includes children whose mental health problems stem from abuse.
A breakdown of outcomes for children referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by six mental health trusts presented a similar picture. 305 of the 1,843, i.e. one in six, cases referred were rejected.
Many of the children were rejected, the research found, because they did not meet the high clinical threshold to qualify for treatment at a CAMHS.
The NSPCC said this puts children who have suffered abuse at particular risk because many of them will not have diagnosable mental health problems, but they will still need therapeutic support to help them deal with their trauma.
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: ‘There’s been a huge increase in awareness about all forms of abuse in recent years. If children don’t receive the right kind of help and support following a disclosure, the damage can last a lifetime and include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or suicidal thoughts in adulthood.’
He continued: ‘Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services are just one part of the jigsaw and it’s clear the current range of support available doesn't meet the needs of many abused and neglected children. Desperate and frightened about their feelings, but unable to access services, some of these children call ChildLine.
‘More and more victims of abuse are speaking out and we need to match their bravery with more specialist therapeutic support that is age-appropriate and there for children and young people, for as long as they need it.’