'Inadequate' mental health services leave abused children 'languishing without support', NSPCC warns

The majority of professionals who work with abused children believe services are inadequate

Abused children are being left to "languish" for months and years without mental health support, a leading charity has warned.

The NSPCC has said that spending cuts and higher thresholds of therapy have made it harder for abused children to receive the correct help.

A survey of 1,000 health and social care professionals by the NSPCC across the UK revealed that 90 per cent believe that services to help children recover from trauma after suffering abuse are inadequate.

Children are therefore forced to deal with the “corrosive consequences” of abuse alone, the NSPCC said.

The survey, which took into account the opinions of psychologists, GPs, teachers and social workers, also showed that help is only offered to children after abuse if they are suicidal, self-harming or developing chronic mental health problems. 

Access has also become more difficult in the last five years according to 78 per cent of those polled. 

In many cases, young people have had to wait for over five months to get specialist help, the charity said.

The findings were published to launch the charity’s It’s Time campaign, which calls on young people who have experienced abuse to receive better access to therapy.

"It shames our nation that children who have suffered abuse languish for months and even years without support," said NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless.

"It's time to ensure that they automatically get the help they need to recover.

"We know that children are often left alone to deal with the corrosive emotional and psychological consequences of appalling abuse and that all too often they face long waits for help with their trauma, or the services offered aren't appropriate for children whose lives have been turned upside down by their experiences: this must change.

"The views of professionals in this survey speak loud and clear. The Government and those that commission services urgently need to increase what is currently available to support this most vulnerable group of children.

"Getting help to these children earlier is vital and can prevent longer term damage to the lives of those who have survived the horror of abuse."

A Department of Health spokesperson said that the Government has set up a Child Protection Taskforce and pledged further investment to improve mental health services. 

He added that the Government is “investing £1.4 billion into young people's mental health and are working with local areas to improve services in hospitals, schools and communities so young people get better quality mental health care as quickly as possible, a key part of which involves helping the victims of abuse.”  

Additional reporting by Press Association

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