Posted: 08 January 2019

The NHS' ten year plan and children's mental health services

Yesterday the NHS published its ten year plan which outlines important changes to the health service between now and 2028.

Focus on access to children's mental health services

Central to the NHS' plan are changes to children's mental health services, which have long been a concern of ours.

Last year 338,000 children were referred to community child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). One third of them received treatment, one third spent last New Year's Eve on the waiting list and the final third were turned away because their problems weren't serious enough to meet the NHS' thresholds.

The NHS threesholds have been set so high because the current system only has the capacity to respond to one third of children and young people with a mental health condition.

This new plan outlines how the NHS will double the amount of young people it reaches in the next five years, with the aim of responding to every child by 2028.

The NHS' new plan faces many challenges

To be successful this requires a massive expansion of the services on offer to children and young people. There is some money to do this but money alone may not be enough. There are huge staff shortages that will need to be addressed. There will also need to be strong accountability to stop local decision makers diverting money to other priority issues in their area, as has happened with the current round of additional funding for children’s mental health services.

These changes will take time, some aspects of the plan will take a whole decade. That offers little comfort to young people today, struggling to access help and support.

One change that could alleviate some of the pressures on the NHS would be to introduce counsellors to all secondary schools. Counselling is inexpensive and there are many trained counsellors the government could introduce to assist with mental health services in schools. Find out more about our call to introduce counselling in schools.

We'll continue to provide a number of mental health services for young people across England and we'll continue to make sure the voices of children and young people remain at the very heart of reform through our research and campaigning.


By Richard Crellin - Policy team

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