Postcode Lottery for Children’s Mental Health Services Revealed

A study by the Children’s Commissioner has found that children are facing a “postcode lottery” when it comes to accessing mental health services for low-level issues such as anxiety and depression.

Despite the fact that government has plunged more money into children’s mental health services and signposted this as a priority in the NHS 10-year plan, spending in real terms has fallen in almost a third of areas in England. 

While 58 per cent of areas reported a real-terms increase in funding for such services, which includes intervention for eating disorders, depression and anxiety in children and young persons, 30 per cent saw a real-terms fall — which has been attributed to a reduction in local authority spending. 

For example, in London local authority spending was £17.88 per child, compared with £5.32 in the East of England.

This has created a postcode lottery for children and their parents trying to access treatment before issues reach crisis point or progress into a darker place. Given the fact that the government issued their commitment to increased funding for children’s mental health services, it is unacceptable that children in one part of the country are being put at a stark disadvantage compared to children in another location. 

Jake Mills, founder of Chasing the Stigma, the Hub of Hope and the Ambassador of Hope programme said: “It is deeply unfair that children are not being able to access early intervention therapy for the issues they are facing. This report shows that inequality is rife across the country when it comes to accessing treatment.”

“While we fight to remove the stigma from accessing mental health treatment, it can often feel as though there is little point if those who are reaching out for help are unable to actually get it.” 

“We are proud that the Hub of Hope provides details of local services for users from just entering your postcode, and hope that those who are struggling are able to access some form of relevant treatment in their local area through our platform.

“However, a real commitment from the government and an egalitarian approach from all local authorities towards allocation of funding can help to improve the lives of so many individuals, be it children or adults, who are suffering across the country”. 

For more information about the Hub of Hope, feel free to browse through local services near you, here.