Children’s mental health services will get a funding boost of £1.25 billion over the next five years to help develop services, the government has announced.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg confirmed the funding on March 15. He said the money would mainly be spent by the NHS on helping more than 100,000 young people. This will include introducing waiting time standards for children for accessing services for the first time and ensuring specialists in children’s talking therapy will be available in every part of the country by 2018.
The funding will also extend access to services for children under five and those with autism and learning disabilities.
Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition and research shows that left untreated it can blight their adult lives.
In addition, the money will help to ensure children and young people with conditions like depression or anxiety, self-harm or at risk of suicide will get access to more therapy, parenting support and care closer to home or in their community, such as in local cafes, youth centres and shopping centres.
Part of the money will be spent on providing more mental health services to pregnant women and new mothers.
More details on this will be outlined by Chancellor George Osborne when he delivers his Budget today [March 18].
“There would be an outcry if a child with diabetes was left to cope without support or treatment. But that’s exactly what’s been happening with young people’s mental health services,” said Clegg. “I have heard, time and again, harrowing stories from young people and their families about how they suffered and their condition deteriorated waiting to get the right treatment for serious mental health problems.
“That’s why I am determined to start a seismic shift to revolutionise children’s mental healthcare and end this unacceptable injustice.
“By introducing waiting time standards and committing to talking therapies for children in every region, we are helping to build a fairer society where young people can get the right treatment and support they deserve to live a better life.”
The funding has been welcomed by Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of charity Ambitious about Autism. “[The] funding announcement is welcome news for children and young people with autism who may be more vulnerable to experiencing problems like anxiety and depression,” she said. “For too long we’ve heard about the real difficulties they face when trying to access mental health services.
“The Government has made a commitment to extend access to mental health services for children with autism and learning disabilities. If this is to work effectively, we urge all mental health professionals working with children to undergo autism awareness training so the children can get the support they desperately need.”