Medical negligence solicitors at Leigh Day have reacted with concern to a report published by the House of Commons Education Committee on the mental health and well-being of looked-after children.
Medical negligence solicitor Sanja Strkljevic, is particularly concerned by the report’s conclusions that children in care are too often missing out on treatment for mental health problems, despite being four times more likely to experience them.
MPS on the committee heard that almost half of children in care have a diagnosable mental health disorder, compared to about one in ten children who are not in care.
Provision for children in care with mental health problems is poor in many parts of England, with a significant number of local authorities failing to identify mental health issues when children enter care.
The report noted that in some areas children in care are turned away because their conditions are not deemed severe enough to qualify for treatment. Some child and adolescent mental health services were found to be unwilling to begin treatment if a child did not have a stable placement.
Sanja welcomed the recommendations of the Chair of the Commons Education Committee, Neil Carmichael. She echoes his recommendations that children in care are given priority access to mental health assessments, and they are never refused care based on their placement or the severity of their condition.
The report also recommends that care leavers should be able to access mental health services up until the age of 25, and that mental health assessments of children entering the care system should be more thoroughly and consistently carried out.
"Children in care are already in a vulnerable position, having already experienced difficulties and in some cases trauma in their young lives. It is astonishing that these very vulnerable young people are denied the support that they need and deserve."