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Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, responding to the Government’s latest plans on children’s mental health services, said:

“While I welcome the Government’s commitment to developing a new children’s mental health workforce in schools over the coming years, I remain extremely concerned that significant improvements for all children are many years away. Five years is a lifetime to a child, and even under these new plans the majority of children will see little improvement over the course of their secondary school life. Too many children will still not be able to get help or will be waiting an unacceptably long time for treatment.

“I know NHS professionals and schools are working hard to improve services and the introduction of trailblazer pilots and the training of hundreds of new counsellors will make a difference. This is a positive step in the right direction which quickly needs to be followed by a quantum leap to accelerate implementation to get help to all children who need it.

“I would like the Government to set really ambitious targets that would see a counsellor available to every secondary school, so that we give children suffering from mental health problems every chance of getting better before their illness becomes worse and they reach crisis point. This will require political will and leadership and a sea change in children’s mental health care funding, to close the enormous spending gap between adult and children’s mental health services. I will continue to press the Government to make the changes needed to make sure every child has access to the support and care they need as soon as possible.”