Rochdale bucks the trend on ‘low level’ children’s mental health services spend

Date published: 12 April 2019

A report looking at the amount spent on ‘low-level’ mental health support for children in England has been published by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, on Wednesday (10 April).

‘Low-level’ mental health services are preventative and early intervention services for treating problems like anxiety and depression or eating disorders, such as support provided by school nurses or counsellors, drop-in centres or online counselling services.

These services are vital for offering early help to children suffering from mental health problems and can often prevent conditions developing into much more serious illnesses.

The Children’s Commissioner’s research is the first time any organisation has collected data to show how much is being spent by areas in England on low level mental health.

While the total reported spend on low-level mental health services across all areas in England increased by 22% between 2016/17 and 2018/19 in cash terms, and by 17% in real terms, over a third of areas around the country still saw a real-terms fall in spending – with nearly 60% of local authorities seeing a real-terms fall.

The report shows there were wide variations between areas in how much funding is available, with provision for such services increasing in the Rochdale borough.

Commenting on the report, Ms Longfield said: “This report reveals for the first time the postcode lottery facing the increasing number of children suffering from low-level mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

“It is extremely worrying that a third of local areas in England are actually reducing real terms spending on these vital services.”

Gail Hopper, director of children’s services at Rochdale Council, said: “We are really proud that funding and provision in Rochdale has increased rather than reduced.

“Demand for services have increased but waiting lists have reduced and do not reflect the reports of delays nationally.

“All children are seen much sooner than timescales required by national targets, and we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of children who are accessing emotional and mental health services, again well in excess of the national target.

“In addition, our Youth Cabinet has recently worked with Cabinet and elected members from all parties to support their mental health campaign. Part of the airport dividend was targeted on providing services identified as priorities by young people. This has resulted in anti-bullying provision which is currently being piloted in some of the borough’s high schools and support from dedicated bereavement workers.

“Both of these provide additional support that young people felt were important to support improved mental health in the borough’s young people.”

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