Stop cutting CAMHS services

YoungMinds is concerned that thousands of children and young people struggling to cope with mental distress may not get the help they need because of swingeing cuts to CAMHS services.

Girl with "no cuts" sign.“I was helped greatly by a charity offering free counselling to young people. This service has had its funding cut dramatically and I worry for other young people who may not have access to this and similar services in the future. Without the help they gave me I would still be agoraphobic and suffering from crippling anxiety; they gave me back my life.”

Caroline Holroyd (22)

YoungMinds asked all ‘top tier’ local authorities in England via the Freedom of Information what their Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services CAMHS budget was for 2010/2011, 2011/2012 and 2012/2013. We received data from 51 of these authorities.

34 out of 51 (Two-thirds) local authorities in England have reduced their CAMHS budget since 2010. One council reported to YoungMinds a drop of 41% in their CAMHS budget from 2010.

You can download our briefing here: CAMHS 2012.13 briefing local authorities

Local authorities can often fund educational Psychologists, parenting programmes, parenting support and social worker teams. They may also fund, or jointly fund targeted mental health in schools services.  They also often fund voluntary sector support – for instance some Youth Information Advice and Counselling services receive funding from local authorities. Local authorities can also often partly fund through their CAMHS budget youth workers, child protection/safeguarding teams, social care services, and looked after children services.

What we found in 2011

We submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to health trusts and councils across England derived from the Durham University Mapping Unit 2010, asking for information on budgets, service cuts and reductions in CAMHS posts. Of the 55 who responded, more than half (29) said they had cut their budgets for children and young people’s mental health services for 2011/2012.

The biggest reductions are in councils, with some reporting cuts of up to 30%, leaving essential early intervention services at risk.

“Draining money from early intervention services is short-sighted, and just stores up problems for the future as young people are left without access to early help, meaning mental health problems become more serious and entrenched. It is therefore vital that councils and NHS commissioners prioritise funding comprehensive CAMHS services as they begin to set their budgets for next year, to avoid deepening the potential damage that further cuts could cause to children and young people’s mental health.”

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive, YoungMinds

YoungMinds and our Very Important Kids (VIKs) are campaigning on a national and local level to stop further cuts that will further damage children and young people's mental health.

What needs to happen?

  • Councils and NHS commissioners must prioritise funding for comprehensive CAMHS services as they begin to set their budgets for next year, to avoid further damage to children and young people’s mental health
  • Public Health England and Directors of Public Health must promote the importance of children and young people’s mental health and ensure local needs are addressed
  • All agencies who work with children and young people need to work together to plan, commission and deliver the full range of services that make up the comprehensive CAMHS model and ensure participation by young people is central
  • A minimum standard for the provision of children's mental health and wellbeing services should be introduced to end the postcode lottery and ensure that young people get the help they need, regardless of where they live
  • Commissioners should invest in early intervention services and redesign existing services to save money in the long term and improve patient outcomes. This will in turn lead to happier and more resilient future generations.

More information