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News: Fresh warnings over child mental health pandemic

Posted 8 September, 2021 by Jennifer Drummond

New figures published this week show the number of children and young people waiting for treatment from specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) has doubled in the last year.

The statistics released on 7 September from Public Health Scotland show that 1,686 children and young people were awaiting treatment at the end of June 2021. At the same time last year, the waiting list stood at  787.

Of the 4,552 children and young people treated over the period April to June 2021, only 72.6% were seen within the Scottish Government’s 18-week waiting time target. Nine out of 14 health boards failed to meet the target.

The figures come after Antony Clark, an Interim Director at Audit Scotland recently highlighted the continued concerns over access to children and young people’s mental health services, warning the pandemic has “made the need for change more urgent” (click to read).

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), an alliance of leading providers of children’s services, has responded to the recent statistics calling for more action to tackle the extensive waiting period and investment in early intervention.

A spokesperson for the SCSC said:

“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. It is more important than ever that children can access the support they need, when they need it, irrespective of where they live.

“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 future.”

They have also called for greater partnership working between the public, private and third sector and a greater awareness of the services on offer.

The figures were published on the same day Scottish Government presented their Programme for Government 2021-22 (click to read), which includes investing (at least 1% of al frontline NHS spend) in CAMHS services.

Click here to view or download the Public Health Scotland statistics