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End kids mental health inequality urges coalition

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​Children's mental health should be a "key budget issue" for Scottish Government

Urgent action is required to end the postcode lottery of provision children in Scotland face when it comes to accessing mental health services.

A coalition of third sector service providers has called for immediate measures from the Scottish Government to increase investment to improve mental health services for young people.

It has also urged it to make mental health a key priority in the coming year at Holyrood and make it a major budget issue.

The call from the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) comes as new waiting time figures are published today (5 September) highlighting a postcode lottery in mental health treatment.

Covering the quarter from April to June 2017, the figures show that five of 14 health boards failed to meet a Scottish Government 18 week waiting time target for children and young people to receive treatment from specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

A spokesperson for the SCSC said: “While it should be welcomed that nine health boards are meeting waiting time targets, the figures highlight that five of our health boards were failing to meet maximum waiting times, a clear ‘postcode lottery’ when it comes to treatment.

“We need to radically transform mental health services, with a focus on preventing such problems arising in the first place and intervening early to ensure that children and young people are able to realise their full potential.”

The NHS in Scotland provides mental health services for children and young people with a wide range of mental health problems including anxiety, behaviour problems, depression and early onset psychosis.

Research shows around 10% of children and young people - aged five to 16 - has a mental health problem and 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.

Yet, despite the enormity of this challenge, less than 0.5% of the NHS budget is spent on specialist CAMHS says campaigners.

The spokesman added: “As a coalition we are delighted that the Scottish Government has committed an additional £150 million in mental health services over the five years from 2016/17, and that this is to be partly used to bring down child and adolescent mental health waiting times, but we clearly need to do more.”