One charity has said that cuts to mental health services for young people in England could amount to a national crisis with tragic consequences.
Official figure gathered by charity Young Minds has found that over half of councils have cut or frozen budgets for child and adolescent mental health.
Experts believe that early care is better for patients and value for money, however budget cuts have been call tough but necessary by the local governemnt, reports the BBC.
Research has found that young adults who do not recieve any help or support in their younger years suffer greater consequences in their later life.
Young Minds used freedom of information requests to gather information about funding for young people’s mental health services. It had responses from 99 out of the 151 councils it contacted. More than half had made cuts over the last five years, while nine councils had kept funding at the same level.
The biggest reduction was at Birmingham City Council, from just above £2.3m in 2010-11 to £125,000 in 2014-15, a drop of 94%.
A spokesman for the authority said government funding had ended in 2010 and after a public consultation, it was decided to stop paying for a service that was primarily an “NHS responsibility”. The council preferred to “prioritise those services for which it was responsible” at a time when significant savings were required. “We are very much committed to ensuring that children and young people in Birmingham have access to the mental health services that they need,” the spokesman added.
Some local authorities, however, have increased spending, such as Worcestershire County Council, where the budget went from £678,523 in 2010/11 to £4.9m for 2014/15.
Overall the figures were “deeply distressing”, said Sarah Brennan, chief executive of Young Minds.
“Children and young people’s mental health services have been chronically underfunded for decades. The latest round of cuts will add to the devastation of local services and compound the struggles of young children and their families.”
David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association’s children and young people’s board, said councils had “worked hard” to protect services to vulnerable children but this had become “increasingly challenging” in the current financial climate.
“Local authorities have serious concerns about mental health funding for children, and want a complete overhaul of the fragmented and complex system they currently face each day when trying to access services delivered by the NHS and other partners.”
Councils were “committed to change” and were “already playing their part”, he stressed.
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