Children’s mental health workforce increases by almost 40 per cent in three years

New data shows large growth in children and young people’s mental health services workforce across England.

08/11/21

Children’s mental health workforce increases by almost 40 per cent in three years

The mental health workforce supporting children and young people in England has seen a 39% increase in whole time equivalent (WTE) staff since 2018, according to new data published by Health Education England (HEE).

The Children and Young People’s Mental Health (CYPMH) workforce across England report shows that a total of 24,848 staff are currently employed in CYPMH services across England, delivering a total of 20,626 WTE staff across all sectors.

The data shows a 39% growth on the 14,857 WTE staff reported in the previous census on 31 December 2018. When the census was first carried out in 2016, there were 12,683 WTE staff recorded – just over half of the current WTE staff there are today.

The workforce census was carried out by the NHS Benchmarking Network to gather data from the 2020/21 financial year to compare and determine the development of the workforce.

It found that NHS mental health services are looking after more children and young people than ever before with over 420,000 treated in 2020/21 – almost 100,000 more than three years ago, though demand for services has also risen.

The NHS Long Term Plan, which predates rising demand following the COVID-19 pandemic, commits to ensuring that an additional 345,000 children and young people will be able to access support through mental health services and school or college-based Mental Health Support Teams by 2023/24. This includes increasing the workforce by more than 27,000 people, across a range of specialist roles, to continue improving access to services and outcomes for children and young people.

Dr Navina Evans, HEE Chief Executive, said the important snapshot shows how the CYPMH workforce has grown since the census was first carried out in 2016 in response to the increasing need and demand for children and young people’s mental health care.

“All the staff who work across the CYPMH workforce have been vital in supporting more children and young people with mental health needs than ever before. It is essential that we continue to invest in education and training to grow the workforce further and encourage people to consider a career in mental healthcare.

“We need to prioritise better access to services and ensuring the CYPMH workforce of today and tomorrow has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours, at the right time.

“We are also grateful to colleagues across the sector for contributing to this unique primary data collection. This resource will enable us to work collaboratively with key strategic partners to inform education and workforce planning and investments for now and in the future.”

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