UK cities ‘not properly planning’ for mental health of abused children

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is calling for urgent help for over a million abused children in UK cities and towns which lack adequate mental health services.

New research by the charity has found that hundreds of thousands of youngsters who have either been abused or neglected are living in areas, including many major cities, with inadequate planning to support their mental health needs.


The findings are based on an analysis of plans by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) on how they will deal with the mental health of vulnerable children. CCGs are clinically-led bodies which are responsible for planning and commissioning health care services in local areas, and there are now 211 CCGs covering cities and regions across England.

Using a ‘traffic light’ assessment system, the NSPCC concluded that 21 CCGs had ‘no recognition’ of the increased mental health needs of vulnerable children. This included the city of Leeds, as well as densely populated areas of Yorkshire and Lancashire in northern England.


The vast majority of CCGs, 146 in all, received an ‘amber rating’, meaning that they only had ‘some’ recognition of the target group’s needs. The cities of Bradford, Brighton, Coventry, Leicester, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton and Wolverhampton all fell into this category. It means that an estimated 1.3 million children are living in an area with either inadequate plans for their mental health needs, or none at all.

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.”

The full report is available in PDF format from the NSPCC.

Next month’s Child in the City World Conference 2018 will feature a series of presentations on four themes, two of which are mobility and access to the child-friendly city and equality and diversity in the child-friendly city. These will examine, respectively, what local municipalities are doing to tackle the increasing constraints on children and young people’s mobility in cities, and the role of local government and public bodies in ensuring young people do not face discrimination, including access to key services.

The conference is being held in Vienna, from September 24 to 26. Visit the website for more details on the themes explored and also how to register to attend.

Author: Simon Weedy

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