Children’s Commissioner’s report reinforces need for urgent changes in children’s mental health services

8 March 2023

“The Children’s Commissioner’s for England’s latest report paints a bleak picture of the current state of mental health services for children and young people,” Centre for Mental Health interim chief executive Andy Bell said today. “Analysis of data across the system suggests there has been little to no improvement in young people’s access to support, the quality of care they receive and their outcomes. While we welcome progress on the numbers of local NHS areas that have increased their spending on children’s mental health, over half of areas spent less than 1% of their overall budget in 2021-22.

“The Commissioner’s report reveals stark and worrying gender inequalities within the children and young people’s mental health system. It’s particularly concerning that nearly three quarters of those detained in mental health hospitals are girls and young women. This aligns with data on the prevalence of mental health problems among children and young people which show a widening gender gap in mental health, particularly during the late teenage years. Government and services must consider ways to embed gender and age-appropriate approaches within mental health services and put this discrimination to an end.

“Locally, the report recognises the importance of Integrated Care Partnerships in driving the much-needed changes across the children and young people’s mental health system. We support the Commissioner’s call for the introduction of accountability mechanisms to ensure the needs of children and young people are considered in their strategies. This should include ways of promoting children’s mental health as well as reducing the inequalities and injustices we know threaten their mental health, such as poverty, racism and discrimination.

“The forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy must recognise the unique needs and experiences of infants, children and young people and outline steps towards a longer-term vision for the system. The Government must also bring forward the vital reforms needed to the Mental Health Act to improve outcomes for all those detained or admitted to mental health hospital.”

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