Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, responding to the Care Quality Commission’s latest report looking at children’s mental health services, said:
We know from NHS statistics and from the first-hand accounts we hear from children themselves that thousands of children are not receiving access to the mental health services they need. Too often referrals are only made when a child is at crisis point and sadly some children have even told me that that they felt they had to attempt to take their own life in order to access treatment.
The Government’s proposals in its Green Paper on children’s mental health are welcome, as is any extra spending on mental health services. The scale of the crisis demands more and I am in agreement with the CQC that the speed of change needs to be stepped up. It remains the case that local areas are spending only 6% of their mental health budgets on children, despite children making up around 20% of the population.
We need to see greater investment in early intervention mental health services, clear benchmarks for what local areas should be providing and proper monitoring of the number of children accessing treatment if we are to see a children’s mental health care system that works for all those children who need it.