Health

Growing gaps in children’s mental health services at 'crisis point'

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield states that the government should increase its focus on local spending for children’s mental health services in England

A report from the Children’s Commissioner states that “low-level” mental health services available for children in parts of England are not sufficient.

“Low-level” mental health services consist of preventative measures for children suffering with issues such as anxiety, depression or eating disorders, before they reach crisis point.

Chief executive of children’s mental health charity YoungMinds, Emma Thomas, said: “While extra money for specialist NHS services is of course welcome, it’s better for everyone if young people can get help before their needs escalate or they hit crisis point.” 

Between 2016/17 and 2018/19, spending on low-level services across all of England increased by 17 per cent in real terms. However, nearly 60 per cent of local authorities across the country saw a real terms fall in spending.

The children’s commissioner’s report shows that the top 25 per cent of local areas in England spent at least £1.1 million on low-level services for children, while the bottom 25 per cent spent a maximum of £180,000.

Thomas said: “We need to end the postcode lottery in spending, and we need local services to work together more effectively.”

In 2018/19, the funding from local authorities for low-level mental health services equated to £17.88 per child in London, where the funding was highest, compared to just £5.83 per child in the Midlands and East of England, where funding was lowest.

There needs to be much clearer and more consistent data.

Longfield recommended in her report that local authorities should be fully involved in national strategy on funding of low-level services to ensure that every area is able to provide sufficient services for children.

This report was the first ever to investigate how much is being spent by local authorities in England on low-level mental health services for children.

Thomas said: “There needs to be much clearer and more consistent data. It’s extremely difficult for commissioners to make informed decisions about local services when reporting is so patchy.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
World War 3, climate crisis, benefit cuts… Here's how to process the news when it feels hopeless
Mental health

World War 3, climate crisis, benefit cuts… Here's how to process the news when it feels hopeless

'The pain was too much': Black woman says she almost died in childbirth due to 'racial prejudices'
black woman's healthcare/ tessa
Health

'The pain was too much': Black woman says she almost died in childbirth due to 'racial prejudices'

Specsavers take to the streets with The Big Issue to experience life of a vendor  
Dame Mary Perkins and John Perkins stand outside King’s Cross station, wearing red Big Issue tabards over their clothes. Dame Mary holds a copy of The Big Issue magazine, and both are sporting red tabards. The bustling background hints at the busy London atmosphere, with a clear sky overhead and modern architecture around. They seem engaged in their role, aiming to understand the experience of magazine vendors.
Sponsored article

Specsavers take to the streets with The Big Issue to experience life of a vendor  

'Enormous' number of privatised NHS services across the UK, mapped: 'This is bad for everyone'
Healthcare

'Enormous' number of privatised NHS services across the UK, mapped: 'This is bad for everyone'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know