New figures published today by Public Health Scotland show that more than 1,500 children have been waiting over a year for mental health treatment – the worst numbers on record.
As a result, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), an alliance of leading providers of children’s services, has called for the Scottish Government to urgently increase mental health spend in its budget.
At the end of December 2020, 1,560 children and young people had been waiting over a year for mental health treatment.
The figures are the worst on record and represent a near tripling from the 589 waiting over a year for treatment in December 2019.
The SCSC has increased investment in services for children and young people to tackle a what it calls a mental health pandemic.
It has also called for a ‘national crusade’ as referrals begin to return to pre-lockdown levels.
The call comes amid growing concerns over a ‘lost generation’ of vulnerable children and young people, whose mental health is being impacted by the pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic cases of poor mental health were at unprecedented levels, with growing numbers of vulnerable children unable to access services.
According to CAMHS, just 50p in every £100 of the NHS budget is spent on specialist child and adolescent mental health services.
The figures from Public Health Scotland also indicate that only four Scottish health boards are meeting the Scottish Government’s waiting time target of 18 weeks from referral to treatment over the quarter to December 2020.
A spokesperson for the SCSC said: “These latest figures are deeply troubling and point to a highly challenging environment for both our young people and our mental health services.
“We welcome the fact that the Scottish Government is intending to invest more than £1.1 billion in mental health services overall, but significantly greater funding is needed to address the current crisis facing our children and young people.
“While referrals are beginning to return to pre-lockdown levels, it is vital that children and families are provided with the support they so desperately need, especially given the impact of the pandemic on mental health.
“The fact that more than 1,500 of our most vulnerable children have been waiting more than a year for treatment in this respect is deeply disturbing.”
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