Health Service Focus

03.02.20

New LGA report calls on government support for children’s mental health

The Local Government Association has today (Jan 3) published a new report highlighting how local authorities can support children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The report by Isos Partnership and commissioned by the LGA, includes research from real dealings with eight council areas (Bedford Borough, Camden, Cornwall, Dorset, Hertfordshire, Isles of Scilly, Liverpool and Salford).

The LGA is calling on government to deliver long-term investment in early support and prevention services to enable councils to help more children avoid reaching crisis point.

According to latest figures, 11.2% of young people aged five to 15 have a mental health condition, a 9.6% increase since 2004. Referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS) have also increased by around 26% in five years.

The report has been published to coincide with Child Mental Health Awareness Week, and looks deeply into the issues apparent in the current system making it difficult to support young people’s mental health.

Systemic issues include historic underfunding, lack of a ‘joined up’ system, insufficient early support investment and capacity of mental health professionals.

Included in the report are examples of good practice to be shared in local areas and nine specific elements that help councils and local partners tackle the issue early, and prevent more timely and accessible care for those with more complex needs.

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“This report provides helpful guidance and good practice to councils about how they can work with local partners in their vital role in helping children have mentally healthy childhoods.

“It provides further evidence that children are being driven into NHS services that treat mental illness because the system and funding prioritise treatment rather than the early support and preventative services that help children have mentally healthy childhoods.

“To turn this around needs concerted and coordinated action at a national level to shift away from treating children once they are diagnosed with a mental illness towards helping them and their families cope with challenges before they escalate.”

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