Coalition calls for budget for mental health as new figures highlight treatment challenge  

Published on December 5, 2023

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), an alliance of leading providers of specialist care and education to vulnerable children and young people, is calling on the Scottish Government to deliver a budget for mental health on 19th December.

The call comes as the latest waiting time figures from Public Health Scotland published today (5th December), indicate that 147 children and young people had been waiting over a year for treatment from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the quarter ending September 2023. 

The figures also show that a total of 5,344 children and young people were still stuck on waiting lists to start treatment at the end of that quarter.

Just 75.6 per cent of patients with mental health problems were seen within 18 weeks from referral to treatment at CAMHS. This falls short of the Scottish Government’s waiting time target of 90 per cent being seen within 18 weeks.

This comes against the background of an increasing level of violent incidents in the classroom, a result in part due to the current mental health emergency, exacerbated by the long shadow of the Covid lockdown and cost-of-living crisis.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, cases of poor mental health in children and young people were at unprecedented levels, with under-resourced services struggling to keep pace with growing demand, leaving an increasing number of vulnerable individuals unable to access support

A report out from the Scottish Government last week found that more than a third of staff had been at the receiving end of verbal abuse in the preceding seven days. In addition, a poll from the largest teaching union, the EIS, revealed that 63.2 per cent of respondents said there are daily incidents of violence or aggression from pupils aimed at teachers.

However, it should be noted that despite this challenging situation, only 0.66 per cent of the total NHS budget was spent on CAMHS in the 2021/22 financial year. Indeed, only 8.78 per cent of the total NHS budget was spent on mental health services, a decrease of 0.34% in the past decade (from 9.12 per cent in 2011/12).

The SCSC is calling the Scottish Government to up its game in the budget and make the treatment of mental health issues a key national priority, prioritising spending and avoiding a potential lost generation of children and young people with mental health problems.

A spokesperson for the SCSC commented:

“The latest figures highlighting that more than 5,300 children and young people are still waiting for treatment from mental health services, with 147 waiting over a year, is extremely alarming.

“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. This is also having a major effect on classroom behaviour, impacting the young people concerned, their fellow pupils and staff.

“Each one of these statistics is an individual, and we would urge the Scottish Government to up its game and make the adequate resourcing of mental health services for our children and young people an absolute priority in the forthcoming budget.”


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 Care: An education and social care provider that uses innovative ways to engage vulnerable individuals in learning and raise their attainment. This includes supporting children and young people through intensive early years programmes, as well as in the classroom and outside the education system.
  • Spark of Genius: An organisation that offers residential care, education, autism services, post-16 employability programmes and adult services.
  • Young Foundations: An organisation the specialises in the care of children and young people who have a range of complex needs.

 Further information about the SCSC can be found at

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