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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Children wait more than a year for mental health treatment


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.”



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louise cameron
almost 3 years ago
if there was appropriate interventions in place within primary schools to teach about empathy and help more to build broken down relationships amongst peers to encourage support for children with needs maybe a young carer or from less privilege background what ever but sadly what usually takes place is bullying.. which adds even more sad feeling to any individual therefore more pres sure on their family life and schools tend to have a CAMHS referal on hand for the victim of bullying which makes the child feel different and that the are different and have serious mental health issues when this could be prevented by good practice with in schools from qualified individuals based in school to help such children but equally to teach others that bullying is wrong and target and teach those children also. working on emotional well being and have regular circle time which is key to helping children understand life from others perspectives also.
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almost 3 years ago
CAMHS make an appointment for you and your child, then you find that the person sits taking notes for the majority of your session. No suggestion of treatment, but they do promise to discuss your case and get a follow up appointment within 9-12 months. Seriously now, what good is that to any parent, when their child is going through some very difficult issues within their life; not coping/tantrums/self-harm etc. You are sent away to deal with it for another year!! CAMHS are a waste of time and should be scrapped. Not fit for purpose.
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Long Suffering
almost 3 years ago
What about the adults who have been begging for help for over 10 years and are just given more drugs that don't seem to work!