LGA lobbies for change of course on children's mental-health funding

The Local Government Association is campaigning to convince central government to address the funding of child and adolescent mental-health services (CAMHS).

A graphic from the LGA's campaign
A graphic from the LGA's campaign

The Bright Futures campaign, launched earlier this month, calls for mental-health services to be made more widely available to young people at the point of need if they are to have the bright future they deserve.

It highlights the struggles of young people with mental-health issues in the context of the difficulty councils have in providing services amid funding changes, such as a near-£500m decrease in money for the Early Intervention Grant since 2013 – something the LGA wants to be reversed.

While the government has allocated £1.7bn to fund CAMHS, the LGA is questioning whether it is being released quickly enough, reaching the right people, and flowing in sufficient quantity toward prevention work.

A key objective of its campaign, and the hook for its launch on 7 February, is to secure funding for independent counselling to be made available in every secondary school.

Activity is continuing with a tie-in to Eating Disorders Awareness Week (26 February-4 March) in the form of a video interview (below) with mental-health campaigner Hope Virgo about her experience of suffering from anorexia.

"Hope eloquently and passionately illustrates our call for the Government to make sure that funding is available for counselling to be available in all secondary schools across the country," Hannah Berry, head of campaigns and digital communications at the LGA, said.

The strategy is to focus strongly on first-person stories from young people to clearly demonstrate the impact that proper funding for their support services would have.

"These first-person stories work well as video and social-media content, which we share through our own channels," Berry said.

The comms effort also encompasses national media outreach, parliamentary lobbying, and appeals to partner organisations to amplify the message that children’s support services are under pressure.

The core target audiences are Government ministers; MPs and peers across all parties; and Government departments – particularly the Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Treasury.

Key moments in the course of the campaign will be the Treasury’s Spring Statement in March and the Autumn Budget later in the year, when the LGA hopes the Government will respond to its lobbying.

The LGA is a cross-party organisation and its campaigns strategy is signed off by members from all political groups. 

Berry said: "Councils do amazing things every day and helping children and young people fulfil their potential is central to what they do, but services to help them are under increasing pressure.

"With proper funding from the Government, and if mental-health services are prioritised, councils will be able to make sure children and young people thrive."

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