The number of referrals by schools seeking mental health treatment for pupils has risen by over a third in the last 3 years.

The figures come from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the NSPCC to NHS Trusts in England. It was found that 123,713 referrals were made by schools seeking professional mental health help between 2014/15 and 2017/18.

The request also showed:

  • 56% of referrals came from primary schools
  • On average 183 referrals were made per school day in 2017/18.

Where information was provided about the outcome of the referral, almost one third were declined specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) treatment (this is based on a subset of the data).

Rising demand for mental health support across the NHS, schools and the voluntary sector is placing the system under increased pressure, jeopardising the well-being of thousands of children and young people. Community and voluntary services, such as Childline, are a lifeline to children dealing with mental health issues.

The news follows a Select Committee report last week which found that the Government’s £300m plans to improve mental health provision for children “lacks ambition and will provide no help to the majority of children who desperately need it.”

The NSPCC has warned that increasing demand is putting pressure on the system and endangering the wellbeing of thousands of children.

Sarah Hannafin from the National Association of Head Teachers has said that more than a third of cases referred to mental health services are not accepted, leaving vulnerable children without support. The government claims its plans will transform the system.