As many as 34 out of 51 top tier local authorities have cut their Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services’ (CAMHS) budgets between 2010 and 2013.
One council has cut CAMHS by as much as 76 per cent during the period.
The information has been revealed in a Freedom of Information request by mental health charity YoungMinds.
An estimated three pupils in each classroom has a diagnosable mental health problem. The 2001 census for England and Wales found that nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression, for example.
The biggest decrease, of 76 per cent, was reported by Hackney council in London. Ealing, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster Councils have also effected 19 per cent budget cuts.
Elsewhere, local authorities in the North East have reduced spending by 12 per cent, while in the North West there has been a nine per cent cut.
YoungMinds is calling for local authorities to ensure that local services work as “one system” with joint commissioning and joined-up delivery between schools, local authorities, CAMHS and the new Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure they “make the most of the resources they have”.
It is also calling for a minimum standard for the provision of children's mental health and wellbeing services to be introduced.
Chief executive, Sarah Brennan, said: “Draining money from early intervention services is short-sighted, and just stores up problems for the future as young people are left without access to early help, meaning mental health problems become more serious and entrenched.
“It is therefore vital that councils and NHS commissioners prioritise funding comprehensive CAMHS services as they begin to set their budgets for next year, to avoid deepening the potential damage that further cuts could cause to children and young people’s mental health.”
YoungMinds carried out a similar exercise in 2011 and found that of the 55 local authorities that responded 29 said that they had cut CAMHS budgets.
For details, visit www.youngminds.org.uk/about/our_campaigns/cuts_to_camhs_services