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Local Government Association response to the DfE and DHSC Green Paper consultation '‘Transforming children and young people'’s mental health provision’'

1. Every child deserves to look forward to a bright future. For that to be the reality, we must ensure practical steps are taken to create a society where good mental
health is treated as just as important as good physical health.

2. The consequences of not tackling poor mental health early can be lifelong. Today, we know that at least one in 10 children and young people are affected by mental health problems. Despite this, lack of funding is leaving service thresholds so high that around 75 per cent of young people experiencing a mental health problem are unable to access any treatment.

3. We cannot carry on like this. Our children should be getting the best – not just getting by.

4. If we truly want to get the best for children and young people, the services that change their lives must be prioritised. We believe there are three key areas that must be addressed in this green paper:

a. Release the promised £1.7 billion to ensure adequate and sustainable funding Mental health services for children and young people are buckling under rapidly increasing demand – local areas urgently need the funding they have been promised to be released and for funding to be guaranteed after this Parliament. Some of this funding must be distributed across the system to schools and local authorities in recognition that these agencies have responsibility for funding for prevention, early intervention services and they also part fund services for the most vulnerable children and young people.

b. Improve standards and make sure funding is spent wisely and transparently It is critical that Government ensure care pathways and services are quickly accessible and appropriate for all, including those with complex needs. They must also strengthen governance over how funding is spent, recognising that health and wellbeing boards are best placed to ensure that funding reaches the right services.

c. Prioritise prevention and early intervention; provide funding for independent counselling in every secondary school. Children and young people’s chances of thriving dramatically increase the earlier we provide help, as well as saving money in the longer term; funding spread across all services would have a real impact. A small proportion of the full £1.7 billion funding pledged for children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) should be channelled directly into schools to implement an independent counselling service in every secondary school.

5. We therefore welcome the green paper’s focus on earlier intervention with further investment and the emphasis on a whole school approach to providing early support for children and young people. We hope this will help children receive help as early as they need it and to avoid escalation that is both costly and not as effective.

6. We reiterate our call for a national commissioning model for welfare secure placements, with urgent action to increase capacity across the country. This model should be designed to fully integrate commissioning for all tier 4 provision across health, social care and youth justice.

7. One of enduring challenges in this area is the number of different pathways for different vulnerable cohorts related to different national policy work streams, funding arrangements, and statutes. This contributes to the lack of integration between health, social care, and youth justice which means children and young people not getting the full help they require. Challenges remain in ensuring a multi-agency approach to delivery happens as set out in different programmes of work. We therefore want to see strategic alignment of all programmes and priorities that are relevant to vulnerable groups at a national level.

8. We encourage the Government to work closely with local areas and the LGA to address these issues and ensure that all young people can look forward to bright futures.