Mental health campaigner hopes NSPCC research 'gets the attention it deserves'
PUBLISHED: 19:00 11 August 2019
A campaigner has said it is "worrying" that thousands of vulnerable children risk being sidelined by mental health services, according to new research.
The NSPCC, which carried out the work, is calling on the NHS to set out how it will prioritise the needs of abused and neglected children and for more transparency over how mental health services commissioning decisions are made.
Suffolk's two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) - which cover an estimated 17,964 children who have been abused or neglected - were given an amber rating on a traffic light system, which means action is needed to improve plans for these youngsters' mental health needs.
But Suffolk health bosses say the area has recently been awarded £2million to further develop provision for young people needing mental health support.
Jordanna Campbell, from Barrow in west Suffolk, launched a campaign to support children's mental health with her teenage daughter Sasha, who is rebuilding her life following a year on mental health units.
Mrs Campbell said: "It is worrying and unsurprising to read the NSPCC's conclusion that thousands of vulnerable children in our region are at risk of continuing not to have their mental health needs met.
"We can only applaud the research and hope that the NHS give it the attention that it deserves."
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The NSPCC warned the NHS could lose sight of the mental health needs of vulnerable children, as responsibility for commissioning decisions moves from individual CCGs to new regional NHS partnerships.
NSPCC Head of policy Almudena Lara said: "Children who have lived through the trauma of abuse and neglect need all the support we can give them to help them recover.
"We know there are fantastic mental health services supporting lots of these children up and down the country. But it's not enough, and a system that's already struggling to properly plan for their mental health needs will render them all but invisible if action isn't taken now by NHS England.
"Millions more children could be affected unless the NHS ensures that vulnerable young people are explicitly recognised in the new commissioning arrangements."
Simon Morgan, head of communications at Suffolk & North East Essex Integrated Care System (ICS), said the £2m would be used to develop three mental health support teams to provide further provision, with a broader aim to "significantly increase the number of teams in Suffolk and North East Essex by 2023".
"We are committed to ensuring they have access to high quality mental health services that they may need access to, building on the support already available in local schools and colleges," he said.
Mrs Campbell added: "What I really look forward to is to see these good intentions turned into practical answers - how many more child psychologists, family therapists, care co-ordinators and other front-line mental health staff will be helping our children?
"How quickly can children who need any level of support with their mental health have access to professional mental health support?"
An NHS England spokesman added: "As NSPCC themselves state, their report does not look at the quality of services and there is absolutely no evidence that children's mental health is in danger; in fact, more children than ever before are receiving excellent mental health care."