In The News

21 May 2017

Third of children's mental health services may be facing downsizing or closure


  • 84 per cent of NHS counsellors, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts say children now need to have more severe levels of illness in order to get help
  • 67 per cent say waiting times have got longer over the last 5 years
  • 76 per cent say the number of posts is inadequate to meet clients’ needs
  • 33 per cent say their service is service is facing downsizing or closure

Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP), British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP), British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) have released the initial findings of a joint survey of over 3,000 NHS counsellors, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts. These show that a third (33 per cent) of those working with children and young people say their service is facing downsizing or closure.

This comes on top of shocking findings showing that 84 per cent of NHS therapists say that children have needed to have increasingly severe levels of illness in order to get help over the past five years. 76 per cent say the number of posts is currently inadequate to meet clients’ needs. 67 per cent say waiting times have got longer over the last 5 years, and 70 per cent say waiting times are currently inadequate to meet clients’ needs.

Filling the knowledge gap left by the lack of official data on NHS children’s mental health services, these new figures reveal that that over the last five years services have been increasingly starved of resources, and are now facing a staffing and resourcing crisis.

With the General Election looming, ACP, BACP, BPC, UKCP repeat their plea for politicians to properly resource NHS mental health services; to provide greater access, shorter waiting times, and the wider range of interventions that children, young people and their families need and deserve.

Chair of UKCP, Martin Pollecoff, commented: ‘Children’s mental health services on the NHS are in crisis. Left untreated, childhood mental health issues can last a life time. Without a cash injection now, the impact on the nation’s mental health could be felt for decades to come.’

Heather Stewart, Chair of ACP, comments: ‘These results are extremely concerning. It is important not to lose sight of the really good work that most CAMHS clinicians are doing to help children and young people with a number of complex mental health needs at a time when resources are being cut. We need to ensure that these services are well supported in order to provide the best treatment in a timely manner.’

Chair of BACP, Andrew Reeves said: ‘These results – part of a much wider NHS survey – only serve to highlight the need for school-based counselling, something BACP has long campaigned for. School-based counselling can provide an early intervention to stop conditions accelerating into something more serious and complex, and is quicker and easier for children to access, usually in just two to three weeks. Plus it can also work as a parallel support alongside CAMHS.’

Chair of BPC, Helen Morgan, said: ‘There is a real urgency to properly fund Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services now. The evidence is loud and clear that if there is not early intervention with children and young people experiencing ill mental health, the ensuing emotional and psychological cost to the lives of them and their loved ones can be enormous. Our findings demonstrate that this crisis must not be allowed to endure any longer.’


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