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Mental health report finds provision failing to meet needs of children and young people

A major report published today on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) warns that the current system is still geared towards specialist care and responding to crisis, rather than early intervention and prevention.

The report, by Audit Scotland, states that in 2017/18, 33,270 children and teenagers were referred to CAMHS, which is the highest number to date and a 22% increase in four years. Of these, 7,199 were turned away, which is 24% more than in 2013/14.

Referrals can be rejected for a number of reasons including patients failing to meet the treatment criteria.

However, the public spending watchdog notes that the threshold for access to specialist CAMHS is "high" and varies between health boards.

Services such as school counselling are "not consistently available" across Scotland, and poor financial and performance data means it is difficult to identify how much is being spent on services or the difference they are making, says the report.

Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, Amy Woodhouse, who was part of the advisory group for the report said: “This report provides robust evidence to back up what we have long known; that current support for children's mental health is woefully inadequate and that the rhetoric of prevention and early intervention is not matched by the reality of overstretched provision which by necessity can only focus on those with the most critical needs.”

“We know that mental health is a key priority for the Scottish Government, as evidenced in the Programme for Government, and those announcements last week were welcome. But, given the stark findings of this report, we would question whether they go far enough to turn things around. We need serious investment and commitment to change at a fundamental level.”

“We also know it’s a matter that children and young people care about deeply and hope that this report provides evidence to back up their concerns and move things on. It will be invaluable evidence for the children and young people’s Mental Health Taskforce.”

Click here to access the full report

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