We are, by now, used to the tricks Covid plays with time. The long days of lockdown, for example, could feel like a week while the months sped past like a busy afternoon.
It certainly does not feel like a year since our investigation into mental health care for young Scots laid bare the anguish endured by parents trapped in a labyrinth of waiting lists and referrals while their children endured unimaginable torment.
It will have felt far longer than a year to families still being asked to wait for life-changing, life-saving treatment. As we report today, there are many more now than then despite the promises of ministers pledging, again and again, to make a difference and ease a national emergency, which is, in truth, a national disgrace.
Their words were wasted and empty. Just like these, from this column, exactly a year ago: “The stories of loss we tell today are harrowing and heart-breaking in equal measure.
“Of course, at this time of national and international emergency, when our lives and how we live them are still being shaken in the kaleidoscope of Covid, there are crises everywhere.
“But few are as worrying, or as pressing, or as dismaying as the mental health crisis being endured by so many young Scots.
“It should be made clear, however, this is not a crisis of the pandemic but the pandemic will, it seems inevitably, turn this lowering crisis into a full-blown emergency, a pandemic of mental illness.
“Successive Scottish governments have failed to ensure children and young people suffering mental illness receive the care they need, as quickly as they need it.
“According to Tolstoy, all happy families are alike but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
“While the loss endured by each family and the pain endured by each young victim is unique, shockingly, their stories are not, with common themes spiralling through them.
“Parents echo each other as they describe being politely directed from pillar to post as they tried to navigate a labyrinthine health service to find the help their child so badly needed, as they detail how every appointment seemed like the first, how they might climb a little ladder only to snake back to the start, again and again.
“Making little progress, as the years passed, their child’s health deteriorated, and their 18th birthday loomed, meaning the specialist treatment for young people was no longer for them. Tragically, some of their children died long before then.
“Too many families tell the same story of a desperate, relentless and often fruitless search for expert help and compassionate, effective care.
“Experts tell another story, one of warm words from ministers but little effective action or investment.
“They tell of official reviews and action plans but on the front line, as we reveal today, experienced, specialist but deeply disillusioned psychiatrists are quitting, unwilling to continue fire-fighting from one consultation to the next, unwilling to listen to any more empty promises.”
A year on and things are worse not better as more ill, young Scots and their families suffer. They do not want or deserve more promises. They want and deserve help. What kind of country is this that we cannot give it?
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