NSPCC: 1.2m abused children let down by inadequate mental health services

About 1.2 million children who have been abused or neglected are being let down by mental health services, according to a report.

About 1.2 million children who have been abused or neglected are being let down by mental health services, according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

Picture: NSPCC/PA Wire

It says 83% of local care plans for such children in England are inadequate, with one in five failing to give any detail on how they will care for children who have been abused or neglected.

The charity estimates at least 1.2 million children who have experienced some form of abuse live in areas with inadequate mental health plans, following its analysis of plans from NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

Help when needed

This is despite research suggesting that children who have been abused are twice as likely to develop clinical depression.

NSPCC trustee and clinical psychologist Tanya Byron said: 'Most CCGs are setting themselves up to fail children who have already been through abuse and trauma.

'It is unacceptable that despite the huge number of children estimated to have been abused, and the known link between abuse and mental health problems, the vast majority of our health services do not have a proper strategy for how to take care of these children.

'CCGs need to urgently review and improve their plans so they are fully prepared to help children when they need it most.

'And government needs to hold CCGs to account to publish high-quality plans in a timely fashion every year.'

Wrong conclusions

The NSPCC rated each CCG's plan according to a traffic light system. Almost two-thirds (62%) were given an amber rating, meaning plans made some reference to the needs of abused children but were still inadequately planning for their care.

Some 21% made no reference to abused children and received a red rating, while 17% were good and received a green rating.

An NHS England spokesperson said the NSPCC report was jumping to the wrong conclusions.

'These local plans set out some priorities that local areas have agreed but are not an exhaustive list of services available, and it would be wrong to assume that those which don't mention services for people who have been abused are not meeting the needs of these children.’

The 2015 report Future in Mind was clear those who have been sexually abused or exploited should receive a comprehensive assessment and referral to the services that they need, including specialist services, but transformation would not happen overnight, the spokesperson said, adding that there is currently a significant expansion in mental health services which aims for children and young people to receive evidence-based treatment by 2020-2021.

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