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Children attempt suicide as they wait for NHS help

Thousands of children and young adults have attempted suicide as a result of long waits for NHS mental health care, a charity has warned.

Children attempt suicide as they wait for NHS help Joe Plumb
NHS data shows 6,389 people aged 19 and under were referred to child and adolescent mental health services in April

YoungMinds polled almost 14,000 people aged 25 and under, finding 26 per cent had tried to take their own lives while waiting for support.

Some 44 per cent had waited more than a month after seeking help, while 9 per cent were turned away. And 58 per cent said their mental health worsened while waiting.

The responses have been shared with the government as evidence for a ten-year mental health plan.

YoungMinds said it feared the plan could be in jeopardy as Tory leadership candidates have yet to commit to it.

Separate data shows 11,878 children aged 10 to 14 took antidepressants in 2021/22, along with 180,455 aged 15 to 19. Both figures are an increase from the year before. The Royal College of Psychiatrists warned of record waiting lists, including for children with eating disorders, saying that services were at “crisis point”.

Emma Thomas, chief executive of YoungMinds, said:

“These numbers paint a shocking picture of the situation young people in this country face when it comes to their mental health.
“The heartbreaking reality is that referrals to the NHS are continuing to reach record highs but uncertainty in government means that time and resources are being diverted away from a rapidly escalating mental health crisis for young people. This cannot continue. We will wait no longer.”

A government spokesman said:

“The death of every young person is a tragedy and the impact on families can be devastating, and we are taking action to give children and young people access to safe, appropriate care.
“Over 22,000 more children and young people have received access to community mental health services, thanks to our additional £79 million investment into children’s mental health services last year.”

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