Investing in children's mental health

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A review of evidence on the costs and benefits of increased service provision

Lorraine Khan, Michael Parsonage & Jessica Stubbs

3 February 2015

Investing in children's mental health examines the costs and the benefits of a range of interventions to prevent or treat some of the most common mental health conditions that affect children and young people.

It finds that there is a wide range of interventions for conduct disorder, anxiety, depression and ADHD that not only improve children's mental health but also lead to substantial economic benefits including future savings in public spending. Group parenting programmes for conduct disorder in young children, for example, generate measurable benefits of at least £3 for every £1 invested, while group cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety in adolescence produces benefits of £31 per £1.

Under-investment in children's mental health support is therefore a false economy. But to achieve the best value for money, children’s mental health services need to reach out to those who need them most and to be delivered to a high standard. And there are significant gaps in evidence in one or two areas of great need and growing concern, such as self-harm and eating disorders.

Audience: NHS England, local commissioners, children's mental health services.

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