Thank you for contacting me about child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and the related campaign by Young Minds.
Supporting young people’s mental health is crucial, particularly through prevention and early intervention. On average, one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life and half of adult mental health illnesses develop before the age of 14.
While the number of children experiencing mental health problems is increasing, too many children and young people are still not getting the support they need. In 2017, it was estimated that over 100,000 children who had been referred to a mental health specialist did not receive treatment.
The Government has committed to increase NHS expenditure over the next four years. Nevertheless, I am concerned that the level of investment is not enough to guarantee the NHS the resources it needs or help it to achieve the ambitions on mental health outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan. Ministers have also yet to outline any costed plan to increase the mental health workforce.
Without the much-needed investment, I am concerned that services will continue to be a postcode lottery and thousands of children will continue to go without vital mental health support. If the Government is to take children’s mental health seriously, I believe it must more than double the funding allocated to CAMHS and ring-fence funding to ensure money reaches the frontline.
More widely, I will press the Government to establish a network of open access mental health hubs to enable more children to access mental health support directly, recruit thousands of qualified on-site secondary school counsellors to ensure accessible pathways to mental health support, and ensure access to a qualified counsellor for every primary school to ensure early prevention and identification of mental health problems.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.