New figures show 460 children waited more than a year for support.
An alliance of leading providers of specialist care and education to vulnerable children and young people is calling on all Scotland’s political parties to come together and make mental health a key focus.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) made the call as new waiting time figures highlight that 469 children and young people had been languishing on waiting lists for more than a year for treatment from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) at the quarter ending March 2023.
Just 74.2 percent of patients with mental health problems were seen within 18 weeks of referral to CAMHS, the figures show, with more than a quarter waiting longer than this time.
This is short of the Scottish Government’s waiting time target of 90 per cent being seen within 18 weeks.
The new figures indicate that it has failed to deliver a key pledge to clear waiting lists by March 2023, as outlined in the NHS Recovery Plan.
Figures also show that as many as 7,701 children and young people were still stuck on waiting lists to start treatment at the end of the quarter ending March 2023, an increase of 138 on the previous quarter ending December 2022.
The new figures are set against the backdrop of a mental health emergency, which is set to worsen given the cost-of-living crisis and services already at breaking point.
The SCSC is calling on a cross party approach to prioritise spending on mental health, avoiding a potential lost generation of children and young people with mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and self-harm.
A spokesperson for the alliance said: “The latest figures highlighting that more than 460 of our children and young people have been languishing on waiting lists for treatment more than a year is extremely alarming.
“Disturbingly, this means that the Scottish Government has totally failed to achieve its pledge to clear waiting lists by March 2023, leaving many thousands of children and young people waiting for treatment.
“Even before the Covid-19 pandemic demand for already overstretched and under-resourced mental health services was increasing. The mental health of our children and young people has deteriorated markedly over the past decade, and both the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis are making matters even worse, creating a potential lost generation of vulnerable children and young people.
“We are facing a mental health emergency and many of our children and young people are at breaking point, with stress and anxiety reaching alarming levels as they battle with the long shadow of lockdown and the rising cost of living.
“We must make the delivery of adequately resourced mental health services for our children and young people an absolute priority and would urge all of Scotland’s political parties to come together and make this a reality.”