Children and young people's mental health services slashed by funding cuts
A survey of health trusts and councils has found that more than half have cut their budgets for children and young people’s mental health services for 2011/2012.
A Freedom of Information request sent to 120 service providers generated 54 responses, of which 29 said they would reduce spend in this area.
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.
The biggest reductions are in councils, with some reporting cuts of up to 25%, leaving essential early intervention services at risk.
Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition and many first seek help for problems including depression, anxiety and self-harm from professionals in school.
But YoungMinds’s research shows that teams of specialist workers such as school nurses, who are trained to identify and treat children with emotional problems, are being disbanded.
Drop-in and counselling services are also among those being axed, while nurse and social worker posts are being cut in a number of areas.
Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said: “Draining money from early intervention services will mean young people with problems will not be identified quickly and their problems will worsen, which will in turn push referrals to specialist services up and increase waiting times. This is not only detrimental to young people and the increased suffering they will have to go through before they get help but its also economically unsound as more intensive support and treatment costs far more money”
Caroline Holroyd, 22, who suffers from anxiety and clinical depression, said: “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 future young people who may not have access to this and similar services. Without the help they gave me I would still be agoraphobic and suffering from crippling anxiety; they gave me back my life.”