With local elections looming and the national conversation focused around issues at Westminster we would like your help in steering the dialogue towards the desperately needed provision for children and young people both at the local and national level.
Please send the CTA today to all candidates standing in your local constituencies and copy your MP. It is critical that candidates realise these are important voting issues for parents and that both locally and nationally recovery for children should be at the forefront of the conversation AND included as a high priority in local authority budgets.
You can find councillors standing in your local constituency via https://whocanivotefor.co.uk.
This link will provide you with the names of all your standing local councillors – it may not give your their email addresses in which case a quick internet search should locate either a direct email address for them or an email address for their party office – it is fine to send the email to either.
I have read with interest leaflets received recently in advance of the local Councillor elections on Thursday 5th May.
Much has been said on a variety of local issues however, I have yet to hear from you on what I consider to be a key voting issue, namely much-needed investment to enable children and young people to recover from the significant impact two years of pandemic policies have had upon them. It is clear that school closures and lockdown restrictions have disproportionately burdened children and young people and we are seeing a deepening mental health crisis in this age group with little commitment from Westminster for an educational catch up, enhanced mental health provision and support for recovery.
I believe there is much more that could be done at a local level to support children and young people in their recovery. Investment in educational catch-up and ensuring children’s wellbeing is a priority through any catch-up provision is key. Addressing the inconsistent mental health support available through schools and ensuring that locally run charities and youth services have the financial support they need to continue and are equipped to provide early mental health support for children and young people are also vital. As is accessible availability of local resources such as children’s play schemes, sports, music and drama groups along with local recreational resources such as well-equipped playgrounds and open spaces.
I would like to ask you to read the following article in the Financial Times dated Sunday 1st May 2022 and let me know your views and indeed what your commitment will be to help resolve the deeply concerning issues our children and young people are facing.
As documented in this article “Government figures show that one in nine people aged 6 to 16 have a probable mental health condition in late 2021 up from one in nine in 2017. Yet, as stated “at the same time, spending is unevenly distributed: last year, only half of local NHS authorities met the government target of spending 1 per cent of their budget on children and young people’s mental health.”
It is clear that the problems created by the pandemic have placed even more of a serious burden upon young people. As stated “While rates of mental ill health in adults and children are roughly comparable, figures from the Local Government Association suggest local NHS groups can spend up to 14 times more on adult’s than children’s mental health services.” According to the Centre for Mental Health, “an additional 1.5mn under-18s will need new or additional help as a result of the pandemic. Instead, a lack of contact with GPs, teachers and other essential services meant problems simply went unchecked.”
Charities such as Young Minds UK describe the issue “as an “explosion” in numbers as children who were unable to access help in lockdown and are now beginning to reach out.” I believe there is an immediate and pressing requirement to secure and allocate funding at the local level to help resolve mental health support for children and young people.
As described in the article we know that waiting lists for NHS help are extremely long “in March, the Children’s Commissioner reported that over a third of children accepted on to waiting lists for mental health treatment were still waiting for their treatment to begin. The average national waiting time between a referral and second contact with CAMHS last year was 32 days, but in the worst-performing areas average wait times were more than 80 days, and maximum wait times stretched to many months.”
“Anne Longfield, former Children’s Commissioner, says that ‘in all of our work last year we’ve talked to practitioners, the instances they’re seeing are becoming more frequent and more extreme’ And many children do not make it on to waiting lists at all. Many of those working on the front line argue that the threshold for being successfully referred to CAMHS is moving higher, so young people…are frequently told they do not qualify for support even when they are in crisis.”
“Olly Parker of Young Minds UK goes on to say that ‘The underfunding of these services during a period of austerity is now colliding with pent-up demand from the Covid pandemic and increasingly widespread psychological problems. The result is that young people in crisis are sometimes waiting months for help, or failing to make the threshold for accessing support at all.’”
For me, and I am sure many other parents, investment in the recovery of children and young people is the single most critical voting issue. Indeed, it is deeply concerning to read that most local authority funding is going into late-stage mental health interventions.
I hope you will agree that this is an issue which requires immediate attention and, if you are voted in as councillor on Thursday, I hope you will commit to championing the recovery of children and young people which I believe, despite the desperate need and the severity of the issue, is being sorely overlooked.
My hope, and indeed my expectation, is for local authorities to have a published minimum spend and to commit to using that in its entirety to support children and young people whilst integrating their physical, mental health and social and educational needs.
This is a critical voting issue for me and I would appreciate you clarifying your position on this matter.