It is alarming to see such a dramatic increase in the number of young people under-21 years of age being prescribed anti-depressants in Scotland. Diagnosis of a mental health problem should not be the only mechanism to trigger support, but it is often only then when interventions take place. We need to act faster at a much earlier stage to support our children and young people.
A renewed focus on early intervention and preventative measures is required urgently if we are to nip potential problems in the bud and make a positive impact on the self esteem, resilience, emotional and mental well-being of our young people.
We welcome the fact that the Scottish Government is taking this matter seriously with the appointment of a new Mental Health Minister but there is no denying the scale of the problem around children and young people’s mental health. For too long we have focused on treating the symptom rather than the contributing factors of poor mental health.
We must ensure that we provide well-resourced services, such as talking therapies, to tackle issues such as depression, before resorting to the prescription pad. Faced with an increasing demand in the number of those seeking help our child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are overstretched. This, at a time when many local authority funded services which provide therapeutic community support are facing cutbacks, means even greater pressure is placed on CAMHS which will only be able to take on the most severe cases and many more young people in need of help will lose out.
We are most definitely in the midst of a mental health epidemic in Scotland and we require a clear mental health strategy focused on prevention and early intervention if we are to help stem the spiralling numbers of children young people facing issues with their mental health.
Data from Miles Briggs MSP question to Scottish Government. Answered by Maureen Watt 25/7/16 (S5W-01305).