Analysis of data over the past five years shows that mental health is the area in which RedArc has provided the most support for children. Not only has this been the health concern with consistently the most child referrals over the past five years, but 30% of new child referrals were for mental health in 2023 alone, and the number of referrals for mental health in children has increased by 42% over the period.

This data shows there is a very clear and rising need for mental health support for children. Therefore, RedArc believes that it is important that such support is made available, and that when it is available, it is made clear.

Many parents and guardians have access to support for dependants via health and wellbeing benefits including protection insurance, group risk insurance, PMI, general insurance, employee assistance programmes and cash plans and this support can be for a range of health concerns including cancer, cardiac, bereavement, diabetes, neurodiversity, as well as for mental health issues. In many cases, children do not necessarily need to be named on their parents’ policies to access the support available.

Too often those with dependants discover they have access to this support after a long and frustrating wait for alternative solutions, with many wishing they had known they could access support for child mental health issues more immediately via these sources.

Christine Husbands, commercial director for RedArc said: “Particularly with the pressures on the NHS, we have seen an increasing number of enquiries for areas such as getting a diagnosis for a child who appears to have a mental health issue, or supporting a child with an ongoing problem. In many cases, the child is on a waiting list somewhere and the parent or guardian is doing their best to cope with the child’s symptoms without fully understanding the root cause or how to access support.”

Importance of specialist clinical support 

When it comes to mental health, children have very specific needs, and it is not only important that they receive support at the point when they most need it but also to give them the best possible chance of becoming resilient adults. RedArc knows only too well that an untreated childhood mental health problem can cause developmental problems in adolescence, and impaired mental health later in life too.

Support should be available from clinically trained professionals with specialist knowledge. It should also encompass access to other types of support if needed, such as the ability to organise structured therapy or counselling suitable for children, the provision of age appropriate written and audio-visual materials, support in getting a second opinion, and guidance to navigate the NHS and national and specialist local charities.

Christine Husbands said: “When children are having a tough time, it can have a considerable impact on their parents and guardians too. Indeed, in some cases, parents can have their own health compromised when they are worried about a child. While there are rarely any quick fixes for a mental health issue, simply knowing there is support available can be of great relief to those with dependants as well as the dependants themselves.”