Intended for healthcare professionals


Mental health services for children fail to meet soaring demand

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 29 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4254
  1. Bernadka Dubicka, chair,
  2. Tori Bullock, service user representative
  1. Child and Adolescent Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: B Dubicka bernadka.dubicka{at}

The ongoing crisis is evidence of systematic discrimination against children

It has been almost 20 years since Every Child Matters was published, a government report intended to bring a sea change in children’s services, including substantial investment in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).1

But in recent years children’s mental health has received less than 1% of the overall health budget, although, as children grow into adults, mental health problems account for 23% of disease burden in the UK. Many affected children remain invisible because they are not in contact with services, or because of gaps in data.2

Increasing pressures in child and adolescent mental health services have been highlighted in numerous reviews,34 culminating recently in an extraordinary judgment by James Munby, president of the High Court’s family division, who condemned the “disgraceful and utterly shaming lack of proper provision in this country” for young people.5 Unfortunately, the young person highlighted in this case is not an exception. Children face long …

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