Latest figures show there were 205,720 cases where a child was identified as having a mental health issue in 2017/18, compared with 133,600 in 2014/15 – up 54 per cent.
The LGA is warning of a “children’s mental health crisis” as councils struggle to cope with the enormous level of demand for children with mental illness.
It is calling on the Government to use the Spending Review to inject desperately needed funding into children’s services, which face a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025.
Early intervention services, such as children’s centres and family support services, play a vital role in supporting children before problems become more serious later on.
However, having lost 60p out of every £1 of central government funding in the past decade, many councils are having to strip back, or even end, some of these services, as a result of the high levels of demand to support children in care. In addition, public health services, which also support a child’s early development, have seen cuts of £700 million to their budgets over five years.
The LGA says it is essential all these services are properly funded if councils are to give children the care and support they need, and prevent them from developing mental illness.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “It is clear we are facing a children’s mental health crisis, and councils are struggling to provide the support young people so desperately need.
“Significant funding pressures in children’s services and public health mean many councils are being forced to cut some of the vital early intervention services that can support children with low-level mental health issues and avoid more serious problems in later life.
“It is absolutely vital that the Government adequately funds these services in this year’s Spending Review, so we can tackle this urgent crisis and make sure children get the help they need.”