Local mental health services for our children are among the poorest in the country according to a report from the Children’s Commissioner.

Labour councillor Carl Walker, Selden ward, Worthing, wrote the following in the Herald newspaper:

The report confirms that our clinical commissioning group area, coastal West Sussex, is now the fifth poorest in the country for children’s mental health care. This rating includes the percentage of its overall budget committed to children’s mental health, the proportion of children locally accessing services and waiting times for these services.

We are 130th out 135 CCGs areas around the country. This is simply atrocious.

The report says that, nationwide, access to children’s mental health services is still not adequate with only 20 per cent of children referred to services getting treatment within four weeks, while the number and rate of children referred to NHS mental health services has continued to increase.

It states that spending on children’s mental health is still inadequate. On average, local areas spend less than one per cent of their overall budget on children’s mental health and 14 times more on adult mental health services than on services for children.

Finally, the 2017 survey of children’s mental health found 10.8 per cent of children are likely to have a clinically diagnosable condition but the current NHS aim is to treat a third of these children with many areas failing to reach even that woeful target. I ask, how is this acceptable in 2021? After so many years of failing the most vulnerable children, why has this Government failed to act?

Like so many others in our community, I have been writing, campaigning and pushing for change on this for years but still our children are being badly let down.

And now our dreadful county council plan to close 32 out of 43 children and family centres across West Sussex – a key community resource which helps alleviate the pressure.

What we really need is serious government action on one of the biggest scandals our country faces.

The best way for residents to mark Children’s Mental Health Week this year is to remember just how badly our children are being failed the next time it comes to an election.

Figures in this article are taken from The State of Children’s Mental Health Services 2020/21.

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