Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, responding to today’s Government announcement of 2,000 extra nurses, therapists and consultants for children’s mental health services, said:
“Many children who have struggled with mental health conditions say they are failing to receive the support they need, so any increase in the number of NHS staff dedicated to children’s mental health services is welcome.
“On its own though it will not be enough to tackle the shortfalls in treatment for children. Provision is much too patchy, slow and inconsistent and thousands of children are having to wait months to see a specialist. My review of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service provision last year showed large numbers of children, including some with very serious conditions, are being turned away upon referral and are having to wait long periods of time for treatment, and that access to CAMHS can be a postcode lottery. The Government must address this in its current review of mental health provision for children and young people.
“At a lower level of need, teachers frequently tell me that children even at primary school are increasingly anxious and they are concerned about the causes and impact of this. My research with primary school children last year found feelings of general worry and anxiety – over friendships, family, lack of confidence and not ‘fitting in’ – to be children’s greatest concern.
“We must work harder to understand the causes behind this and to equip children with the support, knowledge and resilience they need to tackle issues before they become more severe.”