“The NHS and councils need to collaborate to develop a system to support children with mental health problems, the Local Government Association has said.
Its call came in the wake of a Education Policy Institute report, published yesterday, which revealed a 26% increase in the number of children referred to mental health services.
At the same time, a quarter of councils have phased out support they offer to children including schools-based services, family counselling and support for those exposed to domestic abuse.
One in four children referred for mental health support were rejected, the report said.
David Laws, chair of the EPI, said it was “very worrying” that services and support were being cut back just as demand was rising.
“A large number of children referred to mental health services are already rejected for treatment, and the follow up for these children looks unsatisfactory,” he said.
“It is also disturbing that many mental health providers seem unwilling or unable to provide even basic data on their services – the government should take steps to compel all providers to report regularly on their standards and performance, and this data should be collected and reported nationally.”
Responding to the findings, the LGA highlighted the £3bn funding gap that will face children’s services by 2025.
“As a result, many councils are being forced to cut early intervention work, including youth services, which helps children avoid reaching crisis point, perform better at school and avoid mental health issues in later life,” said Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board.
“This has been compounded by government cuts to councils’ public health funding, which also helps young people to get the best start in life.”
She said there was a need for an “urgent root and branch review” of children’s mental health services and local government and the health should together develop a system that “says yes” to children, rather than rejecting them.”