Children and young people

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out the priorities for expanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS) over the next 10 years.

It aims to widen access to services closer to home, reduce unnecessary delays, and deliver specialist mental health care which is based on a clearer understanding of young people’s needs and provided in ways that work better for them.

To achieve this, we are supporting commissioners to develop effective, evidence-based services which can meet the goals set out in the Mental Health Implementation Plan. These will combine local, system-wide leadership and ownership with the participation of essential partners including children, families and carers.

We will build on the major service transformation programme which has, since 2015, been re-shaping the way services are commissioned and delivered, in line with proposals put forward in Future in Mind.

Using the £1.25 million pledged by the Government in 2015, along with £150 million for eating disorder services, over the period of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, this transformation has helped the NHS to widen access to CYPMHS and we are on track to meet our commitment to ensure 70,000 more children and young people can access treatment each year by 2020/21.

Over 420,000 children and young people were treated through NHS-commissioned community services in 2020/21. This is approximately 39.6% of children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition, exceeding the target of 35% (based on the 2004 prevalence estimates that applied when the target was set). This means the NHS over-achieved on the Five Year Forward View commitment.

NHS Digital have produced more recent prevalence estimates in 2017, 2020 and again in 2021. The 2021 wave 2 survey is the second study of prevalence during the covid-19 pandemic, and highlights how the mental health of children and young people has been affected since the last substantive survey in 2017. Applying later prevalence to the access numbers gives an indicative rate of 37% based on 2017 and 27% based on 2021. However, changes in the survey approach mean the data are not directly comparable and caution should be taken drawing conclusions.

By 2023/24, at least an additional 345,000 children and young people aged 0-25 will be able to access support via NHS-funded mental health services, including through schools and colleges.

Funding to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan includes further additional investment, and this will grow faster than both NHS funding and mental health investment overall.

We will:

  • Support commissioners and providers to maintain improvements in supporting children, young people and those who care for them to be more involved in their care and in the development and feedback to services
  • Support commissioners and providers to develop integrated services with clear care pathways from early intervention to crisis and inpatient care
  • Improve collaboration between CCGs and NHS England specialist commissioning
  • Support commissioners and providers to develop the infrastructure to deliver services that can demonstrate outputs and outcomes, including waiting and access times
  • Work with Health Education England to support workforce planning
  • Work with other partners across the system to implement the agreed outcomes from the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and Future in Mind and to meet the priorities and standards set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Working in partnership with children and young people and families is an essential element of our work. Our nationally commissioned participation partner is YoungMinds through the Amplified programme.

Delivering the quality and level of mental health support described in the NHS Long Term Plan requires sophisticated partnership working and planning by the wide range of commissioners, providers and voluntary sector organisations who support children and young people.  We have a range of commissioning resources to support local areas.