Posted: 17 March 2015

New funding announced for children’s mental health services

Every day our services work with many children whose well-being and mental health are affected by issues they face, such as abuse, neglect and substance misuse. With long waiting times for services and high thresholds for mental health assessments, these children often miss out on the vital support that would enable them to move successfully into adulthood.

The Government announced over the weekend that it is due to award £1.25b of funding to mental health services as part of tomorrow’s budget statement.

The funding –up to £250m a year for the next five years – will boost children and adolescents’ mental health services, often known as CAMHS, and provide appropriate and timely support to more than 100,000 children by 2020.

Children’s mental health needs overlooked

These mental health services have been experiencing severe cuts for nearly a decade. A report by the Health Committee in 2014 concluded that there were ’serious and deeply ingrained problems with the commissioning and provision of CAMHS’.

A recent survey conducted by YoungMinds found that two-thirds of local authorities in England have reduced their budget for CAMHS since 2010.

Although expenditure data is rare, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Clinical Commissioning Groups (their successor from 2012) have been steadily reducing their expenditure on CAMHS since 2008. In total, they’ve cut investment by almost £50m in real terms..

In the meantime, rates of self-harm, eating disorders, depression and suicide have risen each year. It is critical that the funding is matched to where there is a rise in demand.

Some groups of children and young people are particularly vulnerable and are at greater risk of developing mental health problems for example, looked after children are five times more likely to develop a mental health problem or child victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse are often turned down because they do not present with a diagnosable symptom.

These groups of young people find it harder to access support and often suffer in silence and in isolation.

The Government should guarantee the commissioning and availability of these crucial services

We welcome this vital investment into CAMHS to improve access and to reach those most in need of help and support. It is high time these services receive the attention they need from government and the incoming Government should ensure it continues to prioritise these services.

The budget is important opportunity for the Government and the opposition to commit to and carry forward this work post-election.

It is important that this new investment is used to fill the gaps in current service provision, such as facilities for older adolescents or therapeutic support for young people experiencing separation, abuse or other traumatic events.

We applaud a big first step in providing these funds but in tomorrow’s budget, the Chancellor should commit to ring fencing this funding in order to guarantee the commissioning and availability of these crucial services.

By Kadra Abdinasir - Policy team