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 new First Minister to make mental health a key focus.
The call comes as new waiting time figures from Public Health Scotland published today (7th March), highlight that over the quarter ending December 2022, only 71.1 per cent of children and young people with mental health problems were being seen within the Scottish Government’s waiting time target of 18 weeks from referral to treatment from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
This falls short of the Scottish Government’s waiting time target of 90 per cent of patients to be seen within that time period.
Figures also show that as many as 7,563 children and young people were still stuck on waiting lists to start treatment at the end of the quarter. Of these, 725 had been waiting for more than a year.
The new figures indicate that the Scottish Government has failed to deliver a key pledge to clear waiting lists by March 2023, as outlined in the NHS Recovery Plan.
This is 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 on the new First Minister to prioritise spending on mental health, avoiding a potential lost generation of children and young people with mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and self-harm.
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 725 children and young people had been waiting over a year for mental health treatment is extremely alarming.
“Disturbingly, this means that the Scottish Government has totally failed to achieve its pledge to clear waiting lists by March 2023, leaving many thousands of children and young people waiting for treatment.
“Even before the Covid-19 pandemic demand for already overstretched and under-resourced mental health services was increasing. Both the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis are making matters even worse, creating a potential lost generation of vulnerable children and young people.
“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 means that many of our children and young people will continue to not get the help they desperately need, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
“The new First Minister, whoever that may be, must make the delivery of adequate mental health services for our children and young people an absolute priority.”
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:
Further information about the SCSC can be found at www.thescsc.org.uk.