What a week to be marking “World Mental Health Day” (Wednesday 10th October) as children’s mental health is yet again in the national headlines and reaffirming the scandal that it has become. It is shocking as we see ambulance call-outs for children suffering from mental health crises rising at a faster rate than for adults.

We see cases of drug overdoses, self-harming and other psychiatric conditions rising by over a third in the past five years. The number of adult cases has increased by 20%

Moreover, this came on the heels of a recent report that showed that more than a fifth of 14-year-old girls in the UK said they had self-harmed, a report released recently suggests.

A survey of 11,000 children found 22% of the girls and 9% of the boys said they had hurt themselves on purpose in the year prior to the questionnaire. As a parent of three children, two of the girls, I find this horrifying.

Ministers need to address the “crisis in children’s mental health” after a Children’s Society report revealed recently that around one in four 14-year-old girls self-harm.

One young person told the charity: “I felt like self-harming was what I wanted to do and had to do as there was nothing else I could do. I think there is help for young people but not the right kind of help. Feeling not pretty enough or good enough as other girls did contribute towards my self-harming, however, I don’t feel just being a girl is the reason as I think boys feel the same way too.”

Councils across the country work hard to ensure children and young people can access the support they need, however with children’s services facing a £3 billion funding gap by 2025, with youth and mental health services suffering.

Many of our councils are being forced to cut early intervention work, including youth services, which helps children avoid reaching crisis point. The Government should release the £1.7 billion promised for CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services),  something that our parliamentarians headed up by Norman Lamb and the Local Government Association have called for time and time again.

It follows NHS data released this month that showed the number of admissions to hospital of girls aged 18 and under for self-harm had almost doubled in two decades, from 7,327 in 1997 to 13,463 in 2017 which backs up our call as part of the LGA’s Bright Futures campaign for children and young people’s mental health (link here) www.local.gov.uk/bright-futures-camhs

 

 

 

 

* Councillor Howard Sykes MBE is the Liberal Democrat Group Leader at the Local Government Association. The LGA is a politically-led, cross-party organisation that works on behalf of 415 councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government.