Nearly a quarter of children referred to NHS mental health services are being turned away, an investigation has found.
Some mental health services are unable to accept children for help unless they express “enduring” suicidal thoughts on multiple occasions, “hear voices that command particular behaviours” or undergo a “major breakdown in family relationships”, the report by think tank CentreForum said.
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The report also found that anorexia support is denied in some regions if young people have a BMI above a certain number. On average, under-16s wait two months for their first appointment.
Lib Dem former health minister Norman Lamb chaired the inquiry. He said: “This is a scandal which has existed for too long. It is unacceptable.
“If we are to finally achieve equality between physical and mental health, as the government has argued for, these shortcomings must be addressed urgently.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are delivering on our commitments on young people’s mental health. £1.4bn will be made available as promised over the next five years, funding the biggest transformation the sector has ever seen