More than 2,000 children have been waiting for mental health treatment


A CHILDREN’S charity has said that over 2,000 children have been waiting over a year to get treatment for mental health.

An alliance of leading providers of children’s services has called on Scotland’s political parties to make this new session of the Scottish Parliament a “Parliament for Mental Health”.

The call from The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) comes as new figures published on June 01 from Public Health Scotland indicate that at the end of March 2021, 2,012 children and young people had been waiting over a year for treatment from specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) provided by the NHS.

Mental Health - Health News Scotland
Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash. These figures are the worst on record and represent a near tripling from March 2020.

With already under-resourced and overstretched services facing overwhelming pressure due to increased demand, the SCSC has raised concerns over a potential “lost generation” of vulnerable children and young people whose mental health is being impacted by Covid-19.

Even prior to the pandemic cases of poor mental health were at unprecedented levels and there are a growing number of vulnerable children who cannot access adequate support.

While 4,089 children and young people were treated over the period January to March 2021 by CAMHS, only 72.5% were seen within the Scottish Government’s waiting time target for the NHS of 18 weeks from referral to treatment.

In addition to increased investment in mental health services, the SCSC has called for a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention, reducing the need for referral to costly specialist CAMHS.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash. It has called for a partnership between the public, private and third sectors and greater awareness of the services available.

A spokesperson for the SCSC said: “These frightening statistics highlight the challenges ahead and a commitment by MSPs to focus on mental health, increasing investment in support services and intervention strategies, must be a priority for this parliament.

“We have for some time raised concerns over a potential lost generation of vulnerable children and young people, whose mental health is being impacted even further by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is a crisis we can overcome, but it will require a similar energy and commitment to that demonstrated for Covid-19 if we are to achieve this and prevent many young people giving up on their futures.”