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Mental health treatment targets need urgent review

Release Date: 08 May 2017

The mother of a self-harming teenager who has been waiting a year to see a psychiatrist has backed Barnardo’s call for an urgent review into waiting times for mental health treatments.

At the moment the target is for 95 per cent of people suffering from mental health problems like depression and anxiety to be referred to counselling within 18 weeks.

The UK’s biggest children’s charity wants the next Government to look at improving this target and ensuring there is parity between the treatment of mental and physical health.

Sarah Jones is backing Barnardo’s call so children like her daughter Rachel, get the help they need more quickly.

The 14-year-old, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, began self-harming after being bullied at school and was referred to CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) a year ago.

Ms Jones says she has been supported through this by a Barnardo’s service which helps children with ADHD, but says CAMHS is overstretched.

They saw a psychologist five months after the first referral but are still waiting to see a psychiatrist.

She said:

There’s a very long waiting list and they are totally under-resourced.

I’m a healthcare professional and I cannot navigate the system.

If I cannot navigate the system as a healthcare professional then how can someone do it who does not know the system?

We need to put pressure on the next Government about CAMHS and I back Barnardo’s calls for shorter mental health waiting times 100 per cent.

Her daughter has stopped harming herself after receiving counselling at school.

Barnardo’s wants all children to have access to counselling at schools so they can benefit like Rachel has.

It also wants mental health to be embedded in schools and discussed in assemblies, so young people learn it’s okay to ask for help.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:

Improvements in children’s mental health treatment have been made over successive governments.

But as the experience of Rachel and her mother shows we have a long road ahead of us.

We know early intervention is crucial to treating mental health issues before they get worse and Barnardo’s believes schools and colleges have a big part to play.

With access to school-based counselling, children like Rachel will be helped to go on and live healthy and happy lives.

Notes to editors

*The names have been changed to protect the people’s identities

A spokesperson is available for interview on request.

Barnardo's services work with children and young people who have mental health difficulties. We run centres where children and young people can come and we make sure that they have a worker they can trust and who they can talk to. We help them build their confidence and to address the root of their difficulties. We also work with their parents, making sure that parents feel supported. And we stay in close touch with other professionals.

Barnardo's believes in getting involved early if we can, before a child or young person's problems become very difficult.


Last year 248,000 children, young people and families were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 996 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes.

We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.

Visit to find out how you can get involved. Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605

Follow Barnardo’s media team on Twitter @BarnardosNews

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