Children and young people’s mental health

Good mental health is important to everyone in society and councils have a clear role in supporting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

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In July 2020, an NHS survey found mental health problems for children aged five to 16 years have increased to one in six (16 per cent) from one in nine (10.8 per cent) in 2017.

The cost of living, the enduring impact of the covid-19 pandemic and wider societal pressures all have an ongoing impact on children’s mental health.

Councils have a key leadership role in promoting positive mental health in their local communities and providing information, care, and support across the life course. Promoting good mental wellbeing and preventing poor mental health helps individuals and communities stay healthy, live meaningful lives, and potentially avoid the need for long term or inpatient care.

Local authorities have a vital role in helping children have mentally healthy childhoods, and the LGA has long called for greater investment in the services that help children have mentally healthy childhoods and reduce the pressure on the services that treat mental illness in children. Supporting children early on to reduce the need for clinical interventions means more can receive help when they need it, rather than waiting until they are unwell. There needs to be a shift away from only treating children once they are diagnosed with a mental illness towards helping them and their families cope with challenges before they escalate, wherever this is possible.