Over 1 million children are being let down by inadequate local mental health plans

Urgent action needed to support children who've been abused

mental healthOur latest research has found that more than 1 million children in England who've been abused or neglected are living in an area with inadequate planning to support their mental health needs.

Using a traffic light system, we analysed the latest annual plans published by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) on how they will care for vulnerable children's mental health. Of the 195 CCGs in England:

    • 146 were rated amber - some recognition of the increased vulnerability of groups of children and young people to mental health problems
    • 21 were rated red - no recognition of the increased mental health needs of vulnerable children and young people (including those who have been abused)
    • 7 failed to produce plans at the time the research was conducted, in line with the deadlines set by NHS England.

This means an estimated 1.3 million abused children are living in an area with either inadequate plans for their mental health needs, or no plans at all1.

Find out more

Since 2016, the NSPCC has carried out an annual analysis of CCGs' Local Transformation Plans to assess how they recognise the vulnerability of children and young people to mental health problems.

Read our latest findings (PDF)

Young people and mental health comment

Almudena Lara, NSPCC’s head of policy and public affairs, said:
“We recognise the hard work of NHS staff providing much-needed mental health services to young people. These ratings are not a reflection on those services and the staff working to deliver them. 

“But our analysis shows that there are CCGs across England that are still not properly planning for the mental health needs of abused children and young people.  It is crucial these children are supported to get back on track and lead healthy lives.

“In future we want to see more CCGs not only recognise the needs of these children, but go further and ensure services are there to support them.”

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  1. This estimate was arrived at by taking rates of all forms of maltreatment from Radford, L. et al. (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today. That research looked at national rates for lifetime childhood maltreatment by a parent or guardian. For under-11s the lifetime rate of all forms of maltreatment for under-11s was 8.9 per cent and for 11-17 year-olds it was 21.9 per cent. The NSPCC applied those national rates to the under-11 and 11-17 local populations of CCGs to estimate how many children had experienced abuse or neglect in each area.