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 for political consensus in tackling the current mental health emergency.
The call comes as the latest waiting time figures from Public Health Scotland published today (6th June), highlight that 469 children and young people had been waiting over a year for treatment from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the quarter ending March 2023.
Indeed, just 74.2 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.
The new figures indicate that it has failed to deliver a key pledge to clear waiting lists by March 2023, as outlined in the NHS Recovery Plan.
Figures also show that as many as 7,701 children and young people were still stuck on waiting lists to start treatment at the end of the quarter ending March 2023, an increase of 138 on the previous quarter ending December 2022.
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 on a cross-party approach to 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, 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 more than 460 of our children and young people had been waiting over a year for treatment from mental health services 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. The mental health of our children and young people has deteriorated markedly over the past decade, and 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.
“We must make the delivery of adequately resourced mental health services for our children and young people an absolute priority and would urge all of Scotland’s political parties to come together and make this a reality.”
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.