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Children’s mental health services are a “postcode lottery”

Monday 15th April 2019
A new report has uncovered that over a third of areas in England saw the amount of real-terms spending on children’s mental health fall between 2016/17 and 2018/19.
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The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, recently published a report on spending on mental health support for children. Unfortunately, the picture it paints is fairly bleak, with definite shortfalls in funding across much of the country.

Young people are already much less likely to get help for mental health issues than adults, with statistics from the NHS showing less than a third of children with a mental health problem are accessing treatment and support. The research from the Children’s Commissioner has highlighted how a lack of funding could be creating an additional barrier to young people receiving the help they need.

In total, local areas - a category that includes both local authorities and the NHS - allocated around £226 million for “low-level” mental health services. This refers to preventative and early-intervention treatments designed to help with conditions like anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

While £226 million sounds like a lot, it equates to less than £15 per child. Furthermore, over a third of local areas in England saw a real-terms fall in spending on low-level mental health services between 2016/17 and 2018/19. This is especially concerning when it comes to local authorities, 60 per cent of which saw reduced spending in this period.

The Children’s Commissioner also found access to mental health support for children has become something of a “postcode lottery”. The top 25 per cent of local areas spent a minimum of £1.1 million on low-level mental health services, while the bottom 25 per cent spent less than £180,000.

Ms Longfield said: “This report reveals, for the first time, the postcode lottery facing the increasing number of children suffering from low-level mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression. It is extremely worrying that a third of local areas in England are actually reducing real-terms spending on these vital services.

Photo by Kevin Gent on UnsplashADNFCR-1780-ID-801850040-ADNFCR

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