Cuts to mental health services for children have led to a national “crisis” in services across England, a charity has warned.
Children and young people’s mental health charity YoungMinds said that many services are at “breaking point” as a result.
The charity sent freedom of information requests to local health authorities and local authorities across the country to determine how much they spent on children and adolescent mental health services in the last few years.
It found that 59 out of 98 local authorities that responded to the request had cut or frozen their budgets since 2010/11.
And 74 out of 96 clinical commissioning groups had frozen or cut the amount spent on services between 2013/14 and 2014/15, a charity spokesman said.
Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: “These are deeply distressing figures. Children and young people’s mental health services have been chronically underfunded for decades. The latest round of cuts will add to the devastation of local services and compound the struggles of children and young people and their families.
“Whilst the Government has prioritised children and young people’s mental health, spending in local areas – where lives are directly affected – does not reflect this so now we are seeing services in crisis.
“Every day we hear from parents, through YoungMinds Parents’ Helpline, desperate for help for their child. They either cannot access services or they are stuck for months on a waiting list.
“Clinicians tell us that their services are at breaking point. As a result they are forced to increase thresholds, which means only the children with the most severe illness receive care.
“YoungMinds has been warning for several years about the dangers in cutting children and young people’s mental health early intervention services.
“Over the last few months we have seen the consequences of these cuts with reports of children and young people with mental illnesses ending up in police cells, being transferred hundreds of miles away or placed on inappropriate adult wards because there haven’t been the beds available.
“If the Government wants to see the Mental Health Strategy delivered on the ground it must urgently ensure that appropriate levels of resources are given locally and nationally to children and young people’s mental health.”
Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb, said: ” It’s vital that children with mental health problems get support at the right time.
“YoungMinds is doing valuable work to highlight a crucial issue – that mental health is often disadvantaged in local spending plans.
“We’ve set out plans to improve care for young people and I would urge everyone to put pressure on local commissioners to make sure children’s mental health gets its fair share.”