Children’s Mental Health briefing: A briefing by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England

Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, November 2018

Report that finds improvement in the provision of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in most areas in the country, yet with the exception of eating disorder services, the provision of services in the youth justice system and in perinatal mental health care, the rate of progress is slow. A vast gap remains between what is provided and what children need. As a result, the current rate of progress is still not good enough for the majority of children who require help but are not receiving it. Main findings include:

  • Of more than 338,000 children referred to CAMHS last year, less than a third (31%) received treatment within the year.
  • Another 37% were not accepted into treatment or discharged after an assessment appointment, and 32% were still on waiting lists at the end of the year.
  • Less than 3% of children in England accessed CAMHS last year, a small fraction of those who need help. This is partly because many children who seek help are not accepted into treatment, but also because many children do not know they have a problem or do not seek help.
  • Of those children who did enter treatment, around half did so within six weeks.
    However, nearly 80% of children entering eating disorders treatment are seen within four weeks.
  • Most areas are increasing funding for CAMHS, but parity with spending on adult mental health services remains a distant prospect. Nearly fifteen times as much is spent on adult mental health as on child mental health.
  • In cash terms this means children’s mental health services require an additional £1.7bn a year to achieve equivalent funding to that provided to adult mental health
  • Some areas are already far exceeding the existing NHS target to be treating a third of children with significant need (based on 2004 levels of prevalence) by 2021. Yet for every area exceeding what NHS England expects of them, there is an area failing to deliver.

Click here to view the full report.

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