Charities report increasing severity of children’s mental health problems

1 August 2017

Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition calls on PM to set up an urgent implementation taskforce.

A survey of charities working to improve children’s mental health has revealed widespread concern about the increasing severity of children’s mental health problems.

The survey the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition found that nearly three quarters of the organisations surveyed (43) said that in the last two years’ the mental health problems young people have presented with have become more severe – with only one organisation saying they have become less severe.

Some charities attributed this to higher thresholds to access Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and children experiencing greater hardships due to austerity.
One anonymous respondent said:

“As a counsellor, I am seeing more young people having attempted suicide, for example, as the norm. They seem to be being discharged from hospital into the community without any significant after care in place at all. Young people have to be doing some very dangerous things before they come to the attention of local CAMHS services.”

The survey also paints a worrying picture about the impact of increased funding in the sector. Less than 1 in 5 organisations (11) reported directly receiving an increase in income.

In terms of the difference increased funding has made, over half (34) say that increased funding has made a small difference, with just two organisations saying that it has made a big difference.

Beyond increased funding which more than a third of the charities called for, the need for more support in schools, better workforce training and better integration within system was highlighted.

Professor Dame Sue Bailey, chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition said

“The vast majority of our members said that demand for children’s mental health support will increase in the next five years, yet we are only seeing increased funding trickle through and it is not having the transformational effect Government wants.

“The future prosperity of the country depends on us getting this right. We need to ensure that children are growing up with good mental health so that they can fulfil their potential.”

The Coalition is calling for the Prime Minister to establish an implementation taskforce, pulling together Ministers from across government – including health, education, justice and work and pensions, and says that without one, plans for children’s mental health will fall by the wayside.

Professor Dame Sue Bailey continued:

“We need a strong, top-level team throughout this period of political turmoil to ensure the change government have committed to bringing on mental health doesn’t slip through the net.

“Awareness must mean action. There is unprecedented political focus on children’s mental health, but without accountability and change driven by a top-level team, the momentum won’t translate into action. It is time to see a mobilisation of resources and effort.

“Children’s mental health problems are increasingly complex, and so too must be our response. The challenge goes beyond health, and the team’s membership must reflect that, bringing together ministers across government – including health, education, justice and work and pensions.”

A big concern among charities is the transition of care for young people once they turn 18 and get transferred into adult mental health services. Only one organisation reported that funding has increased for 19 to 25 year olds, and over half (35) said that it has decreased or stayed the same.

“The team will have to think carefully about what happens when a child reaches age 18, too many young people are dropping out of support at this crucial junction in their lives when many are moving away from home and the support of their families.”


59 organisations took part in the survey ranging in size and income.

To arrange an interview with a Coalition spokesperson, call 0207 803 1110 or email

Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition

The collective voice for those working to improve children and young people’s mental health

We provide the collective voice for all those working to improve children and young people’s mental health, with a focus on shaping policy and improving the way services are delivered. Only by listening, learning and sharing the knowledge and experience of our members, supporters and children and young people themselves can we bring about much needed change.