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Figures show huge increase in mental health treatment referrals from schools

Mental health treatment referrals from schools in Berkshire almost doubled in the past year.

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust received 1,239 in the 2017/18 period, up from 711 in 2016/17, research by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has found.

This 74 per cent increase represents a massive year-on-year rise, with the trust receiving 359 referrals in 2014/15 and 506 in 2015/16.

Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill), the Royal Borough’s cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said he wanted to find out why the referrals had increased.

Cllr Carroll, who has experience of mental health issues, said: “I think part of it will be down to an increase in reporting and awareness, which in some ways is a positive thing, of course.”

Nationally, the NSPCC found that of 123,713 referrals made from schools to the NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – 56 per cent came from primary schools.

Cllr Carroll said the council has run awareness schemes to promote mental wellbeing and health services in schools.

He said: “That is something Cllr Natasha Airey (cabinet member for children’s services) is quite involved in.”

The NSPCC, which runs the young person counselling service Childline, has also called on the Government to provide more funding for early support services for children.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said Childline plays a vital role in supporting children with mental health, especially when children are struggling to get access to specialist treatment. Childline could also help relieve the pressure on CAMHS and could use more funding, he added.

Cllr Carroll said he would like to see more funding for support services but also praised what he described as the Prime Minister’s placing of mental health high on her agenda.

“When she became Prime Minister she stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street and made that clear,” he said.

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