Southwark vows to revolutionise mental health support for children

29 November 2018

Southwark Council has become the first local authority in the country to commit to ensuring that all children with a diagnosed mental health condition in the borough will have access to the mental health services they need.

The Southwark Health and Wellbeing Board unanimously agreed to a new 100 percent treatment rate by 2020, compared to a national target of 35 per cent.

To achieve this aim, the Southwark Health and Wellbeing Board, made up of representatives from Southwark Council, Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group, SLaM and local schools, has committed to ensuring that children and young people with mental health and emotional wellbeing issues get the right help at the right time.

Cllr Jasmine Ali, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Adult Care, said: “This council has made a promise to deliver a fairer future for all and this includes recognising that mental health is just as important as physical health. It simply isn’t good enough to say we will only treat some of the children who need mental health services. Everyone who needs support should receive it, and that’s what we, with our health, education and voluntary sector colleagues, have agreed to do. 

“Nationally the target is to treat 35 percent of children with a diagnosed mental health problem but would we accept targets that said only 35 percent of children with a broken arm would receive treatment? It’s time for mental health to be treated in the same way as any other health emergency. I believe we can do better for our young people.”

The meeting heard compelling evidence of the need for change from a young person, a foster parent with three daughters, and a host of professionals who described witnessing children and young people deteriorate while waiting to access clinical services.

Cllr Peter John, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Board, said: “I cannot overstate the importance of this step, and the impact it will have on the lives of some of our most vulnerable young people and their families. We are promising a significant change in our approach to mental health, and this commitment highlights the dedication of Southwark Council and its partners in delivering services that really support children, young people and their families.”

Nationally 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5-16 are estimated to have a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder. Among children aged 5-16 years old in Southwark, this equates to approximately  1,460 children with emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety, 2,300 children with conduct disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder and socialised conduct disorder and 650 children with hyperkinetic disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A special policy unit has been established to look at outstanding CAMHS services across the country, collect case studies and analyse success stories in this arena to help inform Southwark’s plans. 

Page last updated: 29 November 2018