Children in care too often denied mental health treatment

posted on 28 April 2016, updated on 28 April 2016

A report by the Commons Education Committee says that looked after children are too often missing out on treatment for mental health problems despite the fact that nearly half of children in care have a diagnosable mental health disorder. 

The report found that provision for looked after children with mental health concerns is poor in many areas across England, with a significant number of local authorities failing to identify mental health issues when children enter care.

Services are also turning away vulnerable young people for not meeting diagnostic thresholds or being without a stable placement. 

Co-ordination between health, education and social services at a local level is at the heart of effective support for looked after children with mental health difficulties, states the report, making a number of recommendations:

  • Looked after children should be viewed as a priority for access to mental health assessments and never be refused care based on their placement or the severity of their condition.
  • Children and young people need to be better supported as they enter and leave the care system – care leavers should be able to access CAMHS up until the age of 25 if necessary, and initial assessments of those entering care should be more thoroughly and consistently carried out.
  • All teachers should be trained in mental health and wellbeing, but should not be administering specialist advice or acting as the sole source of support for students.
  • The voices of children and young people in the care system must be heard at every stage – their input into care planning and the services they receive is crucial.

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