April 24, 2023 7.00 am This story is over 14 months old

Spike in Lincolnshire children’s mental health referrals after pandemic

Numbers are now falling again

Lincolnshire health services saw 300 extra children requiring mental health support following the COVID pandemic, but waiting lists are coming down.

Crisis team referals increased 24% since the pandemic, Lincolnshire County Council’s Children’s and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee were told.

Figures peaked in May 2022, council officers said.

Between then and February 2022, there was a 36% reduction in the number of young people waiting to access services, and a 42% reduction in those waiting more than 12 weeks.

Charlotte Gray, head of strategic commissioning at Lincolnshire County Council, said there had been a lot of investment by health services across the county in order to tackle the issue.

“We’re not back to the levels that we were pre-pandemic but we are seeing a turn of the tide,” she said.

“It’s hard to say at this point whether that is something that’s going to stabilise or whether we might see some spikes and dips but we are seeing less young people and what we are doing is increasing the workforce.”

She said there was very strong evidence and a focus about getting early intervention for mental health support.

Councillors questioned why there had been a rise, with some looking at the use of internet and social media since the late 90s.

Officers agreed that it was part of the cause, but also noted there was better awareness and education around mental health needs than there had been.

There was also some criticism over the lack of local inpatient units following the closure of Ash Villa in 2019, with Councillor Tom Smith concerned about the added stress of travelling when needed.

Officers said a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Crisis and Enhanced Treatment Team had helped, including keeping 97% of referrals out of hospital.

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