Time for action

14 December 2021

Investing in comprehensive mental health support for children and young people

Nick O’Shea and Zoë McHayle

The mental health of babies, children and young people has been the subject of significant public, political and government interest in recent years. The challenge now facing policy makers is how to make the aspirations of government a reality.

Time for action, published by Centre for Mental Health and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, highlights the historic underinvestment in children and young people’s mental health, and the postcode lottery of support which has resulted. Public spending on children’s mental health lags behind investment in adult mental health services and there is wide variation in the amount spent per child in different areas.

The report calls for a comprehensive mental health investment strategy for 0-25 year olds.

Promoting children and young people’s mental health offers good value for money. Yet provision is often limited to ‘pilot’ projects rather than full national coverage. The recent Spending Review has done little to address the gaps. A comprehensive system of support for all 0-25 year olds would address the postcode lottery of care and prevent more young people from falling through the gaps.

Time for action investigates the economic evidence for investing in children’s mental health and what the priorities should be. These include more support for infant wellbeing, a whole school approach to mental health, and early support hubs for young people.

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