Children's services are dealing with more than 560 cases of children with mental health problems every day, council leaders have warned.
The Local Government Association is warning of the "children's mental health crisis" and said local authorities are struggling to cope with the demand for services.
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."
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.
Preventative services which can help identify mental health problems early on before they escalate have been slashed due to funding cuts. Councils are being forced to target funding at the rising numbers of children in care. There are currently 75,420 children in the care of councils, who since 2010 have also overseen an 84 per cent increase of children on child protection plans to keep them safe from harm.
As a result nine in 10 councils are being forced to overspend their children’s social care budgets.
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. Council leaders are calling for the government to inject desperately needed funding into children’s services, which face a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025, in the Spending Review.
Cllr Bramble added: "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 which 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. It is the least they deserve and the consequences of not tackling this crisis now can be devastating for young people and their families," she concluded.