From NSPCC southwest:
A disappointing postcode lottery in the amount spent by English regions on low level mental health services is highlighted in a recent report by the Children’s Commissioner. The impact this is having on young people cannot be underestimated, and we fully support her conclusions.
At Childline, we hear from tens of thousands of children every year who are dealing with various mental health and wellbeing issues. In 2017/18, we delivered 21,297 counselling sessions with young people concerned about anxiety – an increase by 55 per cent in just one year.
It’s encouraging that the South West of England is spending more than the national average on preventative and early intervention services such as counsellors, school nurses and drop-in centres. However, it’s clear more needs to be done to ensure children and young people receive more immediate help.
Demand for these types of services is increasing, but by offering early interventional help for those with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or eating disorders, it can prevent such conditions escalating into adulthood.
The government has committed to transform children’s mental health services through the roll-out of new school-based mental-health support teams, but this is only set to cover a quarter of the country.
In these difficult financial times, the NHS has some tough decisions to make about the allocation of resources, however it remains vitally important that along with central government there is consistency when it comes to the provision of children’s mental health services. Action needs to happen now to make sure children can access the right support at the right time, no matter where they live.
John Cameron, Head of Childline