BBC NEWS REPORT SAYS:
Spending on children’s mental health services – such as school counsellors and drop-in centres has fallen in real terms in more than a third of areas in England, a report shows.
The study, by the Children’s Commissioner, found spending had risen by 17% overall but many children faced a “postcode lottery” of provision.
Anne Longfield said the figures were “extremely worrying”.
Officials said investing in these services was a priority.
‘Before crisis point’
The report looked at spending on so-called “low level” mental health services – designed to prevent or treat problems such as depression, eating disorders or anxiety – preventing the need for intensive, specialist intervention.
In general, half the funding comes from the NHS and half from local authorities. The report found that very high-spending areas were masking a larger proportion of low-spending areas, and that wide variation existed across the country.
According to the report:
- Around £226m was spent on low-level children’s mental health services in 2018-19 – an increase of 17% in real terms (taking inflation into account) on the previous year
- While the top quarter of local areas spent £1.1m or more over the financial year, the bottom 25% spent £177,000 or less
- 58% of areas reported a real-term increase in spending between 2018-19
- But 37% saw a real-term fall – often driven by a reduction in local authority spending
- In London, local authority spending was £17.88 per child compared with £5.32 in the East of England
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.
“The children I speak to who are suffering from conditions like anxiety or depression aren’t asking for intensive inpatient therapeutic treatment, they just want to be able to talk to a counsellor about their worries and to be offered advice on how to stop their problems turning into a crisis.”
We support children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing
We know that one in ten children have a diagnosable mental health condition – that’s roughly three children in every classroom.
It can be tough growing up. Many thousands of young people go through periods of mental ill-health. When this happens, it can be difficult for them to make and keep friends, manage at school and feel good about themselves. It can also be bewildering for their families.
Many children may not be diagnosed as having mental health issues, but lack confidence and feel unhappy much of the time.
No child should be left to cope with mental ill-health alone. We are here for children and young people when they need us to listen to them, support them, counsel them, guide them and nurture them.
How we help
Anxious Minds believe in early intervention, before a child or young persons mental health becomes a problem. We run many services supporting young people’s emotional health and wellbeing, from one-to-one counselling to group work.
We aim to provide more counselling services to children across the North East
With your support, we can do more
£20 will pay for a counselling session
£40 will pay for a support group
£150 will pay for a 6 week anxiety course for 10 children