Report on mental health from Children’s Commissioner shows huge disparity across the country in treatment

On 30 January 2020, Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, published her third annual children’s mental health briefing, ‘The state of children’s mental health services’.

The briefing notes that although some progress has been made in the provision of mental health services for children, the current system is still “far away from adequately meeting the needs of all of the estimated 12.8% of children in England with mental health problems – or the many more children who fall just below the threshold for clinical diagnosis.”

One area where there has been improvement is in eating disorder services, where the number of children accessing services has increased by almost 50% since 2016/17. However, the report shows that there continues to be significant problems:

  • On average children are waiting just under 8 weeks (53 days, down from 57 days a year ago) to enter treatment. Where a waiting time target has been introduced – currently just for eating disorders – waiting times are much shorter and 80% of children accessed eating disorder services within 4 weeks.
  • Treatment varies hugely across the country. There are four CCGs where more than 90% of children referred entered treatment: Southwark, Croydon, Corby and Lambeth. In Southwark, 93% of children referred accessed CYPMHS, and they have a target for this to be 100% by 2020. But there are also 10 CCGs where more than half of children referred to CYPMHS don’t go on to enter treatment, including Knowsley where 64% of children referred to CYPMHS have their referral closed before treatment.
  • Children account for 20% of the population, but only 10% of total mental health spending. On average, the NHS spends £225 for every adult and £92 for every child.
  • Out of 195 CCGs in England, 161 increased spending on CYPMHS (per child) in 2018/19. On average spending went up from £54 per child to £59 per child in real terms.  As a result, an additional £50m (in real terms) was spent on children’s mental health across England and an extra 53,000 children received treatment.

The Children’s Commissioner has sent formal statutory notices to a number of areas which national data indicates are lagging behind other areas of the country.

The full report can be found here