Children’s service providers warn of mental health emergency caused by cost-of-living crisis

Published on September 1, 2022

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), an alliance of leading providers of specialist children’s services, is warning of a child mental health emergency caused by the cost-of-living crisis, driven by increasing energy costs.

With inflation, energy costs and shopping bills now outstripping wage levels, this has replaced Covid and lockdown restrictions as the primary cause of poor mental health for children and young people

The coalition has called for an urgent co-ordinated response by both the Scottish and UK Governments to address the crisis and avoid a potential lost generation of children and young people with mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and self-harm. It has also called for greatly increased investment in mental health services.

Even before the pandemic, cases of poor mental health in children and young people were at unprecedented levels, with services struggling to keep up with this growing demand, leaving a growing number of vulnerable individuals unable to access support. The pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have further exacerbated this situation.

Poverty is a major contributor to mental ill health, and children living in low-income households are three times more likely to suffer mental health problems than their more affluent peers.   With more children and young people pushed into poverty as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, an increasing number are set to see their mental health worsen.

Figures published by Public Health Scotland in June indicate that over the quarter covering January to March 2022, 9,672 children and young people were referred to CAMHS for treatment, a staggering 22.4 per cent increase in numbers from the same quarter of the previous year when the equivalent figure was 7,902. At the end of March 2022, a staggering total of 1,322 children and young people had been waiting over a year for treatment.

A spokesperson for the SCSC commented:

“We are facing a mental health emergency and thousands of our children and young are at breaking point, with stress and anxiety reaching alarming levels because of the effect of the cost-of-living crisis.

"Since the pandemic, referrals have increased and the cost-of-living crisis is only going to make it worse, creating a potential lost generation of vulnerable children and young people.

"If we don't give young people the support they need when they need it, the consequences can be catastrophic.

“By minimising the drivers of mental health problems - such as poverty - we can reduce the impact on services and we would urge the Scottish Government and UK Government to work together and address this.”

Notes to Editors

About the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) is an alliance of leading providers of specialist care and education to vulnerable children and young people, as well as support to their families or carers.

It seeks to improve the lives of these children and young people, and its vision is to make Scotland the best place in the world for them to grow up in.

The SCSC aims to achieve this through campaigning to improve support for these vulnerable individuals. This seeks to ensure that a wide range of high-quality, well-resourced and easily accessible services is provided.  Tailored to individual needs this will help them to achieve their full potential.

Members of the SCSC are:

  • Falkland House School: An independent school based in Fife that specialises in the education and care of boys who require additional support for learning.
  • LOVE Learning: An education and social care charity that uses innovative ways to engage vulnerable individuals in learning and raise their attainment. This includes programmes that support children and young people through intensive early years programmes, as well as supporting them in the classroom and outside the education system.
  • Spark of Genius: An independent organisation offering residential care, education, autism services, post-16 employability programmes and adult services.
  • Young Foundations: An independent organisation specialising in the care of children and young people with a range of complex needs.

Further information about the SCSC is available at

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