Scottish child mental health services ‘cracking at the seams’Rita Dune
Scottish child mental health services ‘cracking at the seams’.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition said half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14
Campaigners have warned that child mental health services in Scotland are “cracking at the seams”.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition says research suggests 10% of five to 16-year-olds have a clinically-diagnosable mental health problem.
But they say spending from the NHS budget in services is equivalent to just 50p in every £100 spent.
The Scottish government says it is investing in services and guidance has been issued to health boards.
Last summer official figures showed the number of young people waiting more than a year for specialist mental health treatment had more than trebled in a year.
In a letter to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) called for a significant proportion of money allocated to Scotland under the Barnett formula to go to the NHS for mental health services.
The appeal coincides with Children’s Mental Health Week, which runs from 3-9 February.
An SCSC spokesman said: “With three children in every classroom having a clinically-diagnosable mental health problem, no longer can mental health be viewed as a ‘Cinderella’ service and we must put money behind the rhetoric to address the current crisis.
“There must be a radical transformation of our mental health services, with a focus on preventing such problems arising in the first place and intervening early, especially when we know that half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14.
“With mental health and the issues associated with it representing one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, we must ensure that children and young people are able to get the care and support they need, when they need it.”
SCSC said the latest figures on waiting times to access Child and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – covering the period July to September 2019 – showed that, of the 3,901 children and young people who started their treatment, only 64.5% had been treated within an 18-week waiting time period.
The group, a coalition of independent and third sector children and young peoples’ services, said this was short of the 90% target set by the Scottish government.
It also said 204 children and young people had been waiting for more than a year to be seen.
The SCSC has also called for a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention for those with mental health problems.
A Scottish government spokesman said: “We are determined to ensure that any young person needing mental health support can get services that are appropriate to their needs.
“We’re undertaking an ambitious programme of work to improve performance in mental health waiting times across Scotland and support early intervention in community settings and across the third sector, local government and the NHS.”
The spokesman said this included £250m over five years to support positive mental health for children and young people, in addition to £58m over the last four years specifically to improve access to CAMHS and psychological therapies.
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