Mental health charity YoungMinds has claimed children and adolescent mental health services face a “double whammy” as both local NHS services and local government cut funding.
This claim came after it was revealed this week in a parliamentary answer that NHS spending on children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in England has fallen by more than 6% in real terms since 2010 – equivalent to about £50 million, according to NHS England figures.
In 2009/10, NHS spending on children's mental health services was equivalent to £766 million (at 2013-14 prices). But by 2012-13, the last year for which figures are available, it had fallen to the equivalent of £717 million.
The question was posed by Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham. In response, Care Services Minister Norman Lamb noted that figures show what is spent on CAMHS but are not representative of all spending on treating mental health problems in children and young people.
Last year, YoungMinds revealed that 60% of local authorities had also cut funding to CAMHS since 2010.
But these figures are “deeply worrying”, according to Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds. “Children and young people’s mental health services have been chronically underfunded for decades and the current cuts to their funding have just added to the crisis that many local services face,” she said.
“YoungMinds has welcomed many of the Government’s recent commitments for children and young people’s mental health but it is deeply frustrating that on the ground where services are being delivered we keep seeing resources for helping and supporting some of the most vulnerable children being scaled back.
“These figures along with YoungMinds’ previous research demonstrate the ‘double whammy’ that children and adolescent mental health services face as both local NHS services and local government cut funding.
“Every day we hear from parents, through YoungMinds Parents’ Helpline, desperate for help for their child. They either cannot access services or they are stuck for months on a waiting list. Clinicians tell us that their services are at breaking point. As a result they are forced to increase thresholds, which mean only the children with the most severe illness receive care.
“There has been a lot of positive noise about children’s mental health in recent times but until we see real progress in supporting children’s mental health on the ground we will continue to fail thousands of vulnerable children, young people and their families.”