Cash crisis as mental health funding for young people is cut in Wandsworth and Lambeth by more than £250,000

Young people experiencing mental health problems face an uncertain future after care budgets in Lambeth and Wandsworth were slashed by more than £250,000.

Figures exclusively obtained by South West Londoner show that Wandsworth and Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) cut their Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) budgets in 2014/15.

Wandsworth CCG decreased their budget by £71,741 and Lambeth CCG by £182,134, despite pledges from politicians that young people’s mental health was a top priority.

Dr Nihara Krause, founder and CEO of mental health charity STEM4 based in Wimbledon, said: “It’s not good news at all. The threshold to receive assistance on CAMHS is so high already.

“Unless you have very severe mental health issues you will have no chance of accessing the service. Further budget cuts are creating a huge problem.”

In March 2015 Chancellor George Osborne confirmed an extra £1.25 billion would be spent on mental health services for people.

The Conservatives also promised an £8 billion windfall for the NHS in a pre-election pledge, which included an increase in funding for mental health services.

Despite these assurances, mental health budgets for children’s services have fallen by 6% in real terms since 2010.

Dr Krause, who has more than 24 years’ experience as a clinical psychologist, said: “There was a major promise for further funds for young people and to battle eating disorders. We haven’t seen anything so far.”

STEM4 aims to improve teenage mental health issues and has a strong focus on eating disorders, self-harm and depression.

The workshops run by qualified medical professionals are becoming increasingly popular with schools.

Dr Krause said: “We’ve had loads of schools coming to us from all round the country from places like Yorkshire, Wales and Scotland.

“Previously we were just a service around London but there is a lot of need.”

According to the Royal College of Psychiatry, half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s, making early intervention a key battleground for future funding requirements for mental health services.

Dr Krause said: “If you pick up these issues early you can make a huge difference.”

Wandsworth CCG said the slight reduction in funding was part of a Cost Improvement Plan which reduced the number of managerial staff without reducing clinical teams.

Lambeth CCG said they continue to recognise the critical importance of emotional well-being for young people and are investing in additional frontline services in 2015/16 to improve quality and provision.

Feature image courtesy of E-Magine Art, with thanks

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