Headlines: October 23rd, 2006



Local authorities are warning that the funding of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) might need to be reviewed if there is an increase in demand for the service. The warning comes in an interim report from the Local Government Association and means council leaders will now press the Government to extend financial support to help local authorities meet rising need.

The LGA report says an early cash injection into preventative services could see fewer children and young people needing access to critical services and greater intervention. The report is based on research by the National Foundation for Educational Research and highlights predicted funding pressures for specialist services for children and young people who have severe, complex and persistent disorders. The report draws attention to three key areas that it believes need to be addressed – children with learning disabilities, autism and services for 16 to18 year olds.

Councillor Les Lawrence, who chairs the LGA’s Children and Young People Board said up to one in four people suffered from a mental health problem at some point in their lives and mentalillness was a bigger cost to society than crime. “Through better investment in mental health services early on, more children and young people can be assisted effectively and the 77 billion pound annual cost can be drastically reduced, leading, we hope to an ‘invest to save’ scenario,” he said.

Councillor Lawrence said nobody should underestimate the importance of early intervention or the difficulties health and social care services had been facing in integrating their services to maximise support for those childtren with which they were working. “It is absolutely vital that our most vulnerable members of society have access to a well resourced and well run mental health service,” he added.

He believed local authorities and health services had made significant progress towards a service thatwas responsive to young people’s unique and complex needs and one which helped them to fulfil their full potential, but he warned that if current progress towards prevention was to to be maintained, protected funding had to injected early on.