One quarter of the local authorities in England and Wales do not monitor the mental health of children in care.
The finding is highlighted in a new report from the NSPCC. It was based on interviews with 178 people, a total which included children both currently and formerly in care as well as frontline childcare professionals.
According to the charity, as many as half of all children in care have a recognisable mental health disorder – four times the rate of the general population, Children & Young People Now reports. Mental health issues are frequently not considered when the child’s overall health is assessed, the NSPCC claims, and those mental health services which do exist are often geared towards emergency situations at the expense of early intervention.
Report author Louise Bazalgette is development manager for looked-after children and families with complex needs at the charity. She said:
“We heard stories from children and young people who had been extremely distressed while they were in care, but the way they communicated through challenging or withdrawn behaviour was often misunderstood. We need to take a whole-system approach which recognises children’s individual needs.”
Read the report, entitled Achieving Emotional Wellbeing for Looked-After Children, here.
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