Thousands of young people are struggling with mental health problems in Wigan, worrying new data shows.
Mental health charities have warned about an under-reported “national crisis” among children, and say short-staffed public services cannot tackle the problem unless funding is increased.
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New NHS figures show that no fewer than 2,210 people aged under 18 were seen at least twice by mental health services in Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in 2018-2019.
That’s a ratio of 33 per every 1,000 children in the area, compared to 32 on average in England.
But the rate is below high occurrence areas such as County Durham, where more than 60 in every 1,000 children required mental health assistance.
A recent report by the Association of Child Psychotherapists said child and adolescent mental health services are facing a “serious and worsening crisis” due to underfunding.
Dr Nick Waggett, chief executive of the Association of Child Psychotherapists, said: “These new figures confirm national prevalence data showing that mental illness amongst children and young people is increasing.
“It is important that the needs of the most unwell and vulnerable children are recognised and that investment is put into their care.
“At the same time, services must be expanded to meet the rise in mental health problems and address the long-standing shortfall in services for children, young people and their families.”
Across England, 380,000 children and young people were treated by mental health services in 2018-19.
Richard Crellin, policy and research manager at The Children’s Society, said many more require assistance, but are being turned down by the NHS.
He said: “Our research found up to 110,000 10 to 17-year-olds seeking help are being turned away because their problems were not deemed ‘serious’ enough.
“Those that are being seen have to wait 12 weeks between referral and treatment on average but this varies and we know some children are having to wait for up to a year.
“Being turned away and long delays can be incredibly detrimental for children and we know poor mental health has a real impact on a child’s chances at school and in life.”
Further reports have in recent years flagged up growing mental health issues among youngsters, including from depression and eating disorders, increases in which have been attributed by some to social media.