Wentworth and Dearne MP, John Healey, has challenged the Conservatives to slash the number of children stuck on mental health waiting lists through access to mental health professionals in every school.

It comes as new analysis shows the extent of the mental health crisis and its impact on young people across Rotherham.

The analysis found that:


  • 4,595 children and young people were referred to mental health services in Rotherham between April 2021 and March 2022 (most recent statistics)
  • 1,585 (35%) either waited longer than three months to begin treatment or saw their referrals closed without receiving NHS care.
  • The average time that a child who was treated by Children and Adolescents’ Mental Health Services (CAMHS) waited to receive care in Rotherham was 29 days
  • 1,705 (37%) children and adolescents referred were listed as ‘still waiting’ for care at the end of the annual monitoring period
  • 465 children and young people were still awaiting one contact from NHS services
  • 1,475 (32%) referred received no treatment before their referral was closed

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week. It was launched in 2015 and each year, hundreds of schools, children, parents and carers take part. Now in its 10th year, the theme this year is ‘My Voice Matters’.

A recent cross-party report found that the current capacity of mental health services to support pupils in schools is “grossly inadequate” and could be a contributory factor to rising school absences, while the Children’s Commissioner and a host of mental health charities have made the link between mental ill health and persistent absence.

Labour has committed to ending private schools’ tax breaks to fund specialist mental health professionals in schools, so that every young person has access to early support, resolving problems before they escalate.

John Healey MP said: “Poor mental health is a key barrier to learning and to young people seizing opportunities to get on.

“We can’t continue to leave children stranded for months on mental health waiting lists waiting to get the help they desperately need.

“Failing to tackle the problem is a calculated political choice by the Conservatives.

“That’s why Labour’s common-sense plan will put mental health professionals in schools, so every young person will have access to early support right from the start and resolving problems before they escalate.”

The figures come after the Wentworth and Dearne MP took local head teachers to Westminster last year to meet with the Schools Minister to press for greater government support to help schools deal with the mounting mental health concerns they have to handle on a daily basis.

It follows a survey of schools by John across the constituency in which all secondary schools, and most primary schools, said there had been a rise in anxiety reported mental health problems for both students and staff since his original survey in 2018.

The Labour Party has said it would provide every community with an open-access mental health hub for young people by ending private schools’ tax breaks and recruiting thousands more mental health professionals.