The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), an alliance of leading providers of specialist care and education to vulnerable children and young people, has called on the Scottish Government to up its game over children’s mental health over 2023/24.
The call comes as the latest waiting time figures from Public Health Scotland published today (5th September), indicate that 224 children and young people had been waiting over a year for treatment from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the quarter ending June 2023.
They also show that 6,667 children and young people were still stuck on waiting lists to start treatment at the end of the quarter ending June 2023.
The figures come on the same day that the Scottish Government is publishing its Programme for Government for 2023/24.
Just 73.8 per cent of patients with mental health problems were seen within 18 weeks from referral to treatment at CAMHS, with more than a quarter waiting longer than this time. This falls short of the Scottish Government’s waiting time target of 90 per cent being seen within 18 weeks.
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 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 new figures are set against the backdrop of a mental health emergency, which is set to worsen given the cost-of-living crisis and services already at breaking point.
The SCSC is calling the Scottish Government to up its game over 2023/24 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.
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. Children and young people are still battling with the long shadow of lockdown, and the rising cost of living is adding to the pressure.
A spokesperson for the SCSC commented:
“The latest figures highlighting that more than 6,600 children and young people are still waiting for treatment from mental health services, with 224 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.
“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 over 2023/24.”
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: