Responding to a report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on children and young people’s mental health needs, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“Action to tackle the crisis in children and young people’s mental health is long overdue and this report reinforces the urgent need to support children and families in desperate need of help.
“We are pleased the Government is taking steps to address this, but as this report notes, these measures need to be fast-tracked to protect children and young people from avoidable mental health problems.
“The reality is that all children need support, but they are having to wait 18 months before they receive vital support and guidance, which is clearly unacceptable.
“That is why we are calling on government to fund on-site school counselling services in every school. This would help ensure children can access the support as early as they need without having to go on a waiting list, as well as reduce overall demand on specialist services.
“We support the report’s call for children and young people’s mental health to become a higher priority across the whole of government. We want this to inform the Government’s green paper on children’s mental health to deliver the long-term root and branch reform it so desperately needs and ensure the system speeds up, rather than delays, children asking for help.
“The Government needs to further address the crisis in children’s services in its forthcoming Spring Statement.”
The Government has pledged a total of £1.7 billion to promoting, protecting and improving children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. The LGA is calling for 5 per cent of this funding – £90 million – to be used to make it mandatory for every pupil in secondary and alternative education provision, to have access to on-site school counselling services. The call is part of the LGA’s Bright Futures campaign for children and young people’s mental health.