Latest waiting figures for child mental health services have shown 40 youngsters waited more than 12 months for treatment
Scores of Scottish youngsters with mental health problems have been waiting more than a year for specialist treatment.
The latest NHS waiting time figures have revealed that 40 young people faced a wait of more than 12 months for an appointment with specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
More than a quarter of children are not being seen within the 18-week waiting time target, and the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) has said the figures show that the system is failing.
Covering the quarter from October to December 2017, the figures note that 4,015 children and young people started CAMHS treatment in this period.
The NHS in Scotland, including 10 of the 14 regional health boards, failed to meet the Scottish Government 18-week waiting time target for children and young people to receive treatment from CAMHS.
More than a quarter (26.9%) of youngsters who have been referred for treatment are failing to be seen within this period.
A spokesman for the SCSC said: “There must be a radical transformation of our mental health services, with a focus on preventing such problems arising in the first place and intervening early, especially when we know that half of all mental health problems begin before the age of 14.
“With mental health and the issues associated with it representing one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, we must ensure that children and young people are able to get the care and support they need, when they need it.”
Barnardo’s Scotland has said that cross-sectoral action to improve support for children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, and a wider discussion on what other agencies can do to support CAMHS, is needed.
The charity’s head of policy, Kirsten Hogg, said: “Not all children and young people with mental health difficulties will need a specialist CAMHS service, and we must make sure that we make use of the relationships and expertise present in other services, to ensure that these children and young people have access to appropriate support. This is not an issue for the health sector alone to deal with.”
Mental health minister Maureen Watt recognised that there are too many young people experiencing long waits for treatment.
“Demand for mental health services is increasing as people become more aware of both mental health problems and of the care available, and as stigma reduces,” she said. “But there are too many people who are experiencing waits that are too long.
“That’s why we’ll continue to support the improvement of mental health services through the £150 million of extra funding we’re providing over five years to help deliver our mental health strategy.”