Children and young people struggle to access mental healthcare

Fewer than one in ten get the support they need, according to YoungMinds survey

Fewer than one in ten get the support they need, according to YoungMinds survey

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Some young people face ‘unacceptable barriers’ in getting mental health support, the charity YoungMinds has warned.

A survey of 2,700 young people who have struggled with mental health issues found that only 9% said it is easy to get the support they need.

The poll of children and young adults up to the age of 25 found that:

  • Two-thirds (66%) said it is ‘difficult’ to get help
  • Only 6% said there is enough support for children and young people with mental health problems
  • Among young people who have accessed child and adolescent mental health services, 44% said they found it hard to get initial referrals and 60% said they faced long waits between referrals and assessments.

YoungMinds said that some young people start to self-harm or feel suicidal while waiting for support.


The charity also surveyed 1,600 parents of children who have looked for support. Two-fifths (42%) of these parents said they have struggled getting help from school or college, while 29% reported problems getting help from GPs, according to the YoungMinds report.

Chief executive of YoungMinds Sarah Brennan said: ‘These results reflect what we hear every day from young people and parents – that, despite the great progress being made by campaigns like Heads Together to get people talking about mental health, as well as extra government investment, there can still be unacceptable barriers to getting help.

‘Every day we get calls to our Parents Helpline from parents whose children can’t get help at school, who’ve been waiting months for an assessment or who have been told that they don’t meet the threshold for treatment.

‘We hear from young people who have started to self-harm or become suicidal while waiting for support.

‘All the evidence shows that getting the right help quickly can prevent problems from escalating, so it’s not good enough that around half of those young people who reach out for help are turned away.’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Our five-year plan for improving mental health care is already beginning to make progress in much of the country, but decades of under-investment have left significant unmet demand, so while funding is up by £100 million and more children are getting timely help, it is clear that the sea-change in care we all want to see will take time to deliver.’

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