NHS England should introduce a new ‘investment standard’ for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to ensure that commitments the government has made to its long-term funding are met, according to the British Medical Association.

The association said the Mental Health Investment Standard – which required all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to increase their total mental health spending at the same rate as their overall budget increase – has demonstrated the impact an investment standard can have on delivering against funding commitments. 

The BMA said that “replicating this for CAMHS would help to ensure that the promised uplift in funding is directly spent on CAMHS services”.

The BMA included the request in its ‘Beyond parity of esteem’ report which outlined the current state of mental health in England and how it can be improved. 

The BMA said: “Historical underfunding and increased pressure have placed CAMHS under significant pressure and struggling to meet demand in recent years.” 

BMA added that although CCGs now have an investment standard, they still require adequate funding to allow them to double mental health spending over the period of the NHS’s Long-Term Plan. 

This is in addition to increased investment in primary care, public mental health, mental health research and mental health estate.

BMA said that while CCGs have seen an increase in spending each year since 2015, the increases are “modest and do not go far enough in reversing the historical underinvestment in mental health compared to physical health services and delivering true parity of resource”.