The recent report by Audit Scotland highlights the challenges our National Health Service faces and raises a number of urgent concerns.
As a coalition we have campaigned strenuously to highlight the lack of funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the need for greater resources to ensure Health Boards meet the 18-week waiting time target set by the Scottish Government.
It is clear that current resources are pushed to the limit and, given the rise in the number of children and teenagers diagnosed with mental health issues in recent years, greater investment is required to ensure waiting time targets are met and treatment and support is provided at the earliest instance.
More importantly half of all diagnosable mental health problems start before the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 21. Therefore, as well as treating mental health issues we must also work towards a model of prevention and early intervention, providing support such as counselling services in schools and effective mental health education from a young age. This will equip our young people to cope with the many pressures of modern life and as a result alleviate the pressure on often costly specialist mental health services.
Given the Scottish Government’s forthcoming publication of its new mental health strategy and the Audit Scotland report, it is clear that there must be a greater focus on prevention and early intervention, delivering costs savings for the NHS, as well as ensuring that those with mental health problems get the care and support they need, when they need it.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition:
Tom McGhee, Managing Director, Spark of Genius
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland
Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Scotland
Stuart Jacob, Director, Falkland House School
Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations
Liz May, National Co-ordinator, Action for Sick Children Scotland