Child Mental Health Referrals In Sheffield Rise 31% In 3 Years

New data on mental health referrals casts a light on how children get help for issues in Sheffield as budgets come under pressure.

By George, 13 and Ben, 13, Sheffield · April 20, 2020

Pic: Shutterstock

The number of children being referred for specialist mental health treatment in Sheffield has risen from 2,443 to 3,205 between 2016/17 and 2019/20, a rise of 31%.

The figures represent the number of children referred by GPs and other staff to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, known as CAMHS and run by the NHS.

In the same three year time-frame, the number of referrals for anxiety specifically rose from 537 to 672, an increase of 25%.

Referrals for other, unspecified issues went up from 1,268 in 2016/17 to 1,679 in 2019/20, a rise of 32%.

Media literacy charity The Student View sourced the findings via a Freedom of Information request to Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Jeff Perring, Medical Director at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Sheffield Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) has seen a significant increase in demand and accepted referrals between 2016/17 and 2019/20. This increased demand reflects the national picture for mental health support needed for children and young people.

“We have a number of programmes which we run with our partners across Sheffield, including our Future in Mind programme as well as Sheffield Healthy Minds. Healthy Minds was introduced following consultation with children, young people and families and is being rolled out across primary and secondary schools. Programmes such as these have increased awareness around emotional wellbeing and mental health whilst delivering the school early intervention model has meant that a need for support is identified  earlier. As a result we have seen an expected increase in demand. In addition there are thought to be a number of wider societal reasons for an increase in our CAMHS referrals. These include an evolving understanding of mental health in society through the use of social media and education and a positive increase in social acceptance of mental health needs and their importance – all of these are positive steps in recognising the need to access support and means we may see more patients.”

A second FOI request submitted to Sheffield City Council further uncovered that the council’s budget for all mental health care in Sheffield had fallen from £4,412,704 to £3,993,978 over a five year period. 

This means a decrease of nearly £500,000 worth of budget since 2015, a decline of around 9%. This does not include NHS budgets, which are separate.

In March 2020, local newspaper The Sheffield Star reported on findings that showed “14 times more funding given to mental health services for Sheffield’s adults than its children and young people.”

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet member for children and young people, told the Star: “There is money from the Government but it’s not enough. We still have challenges on waiting times and getting the first appointment. We are not complacent but we don’t have enough money in mental health services. We need to get more money for mental health in general.”

If you are experiencing difficulties that you think may be related to your mental health, please seek help. Call NHS 111, or click here for support from The Samaritans, or here for support from Mind.