The findings of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, which indicates that teenage girls in Scotland suffer some of the worst mental health problems in Europe and North America, are truly disturbing (15th March)
The mental health of all our children and young people is an incredibly important issue, and one we as a coalition have been campaigning on for some time, placing it at the heart of our recently launched manifesto.
While we welcome what the Scottish Government has done in this area, it is clear that much more needs to be done to tackle soaring numbers of children and young people with mental health problems.
As we know, half of all diagnosable mental health problems start before the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 21. However, only 0.46 per cent of NHS Scotland expenditure is spent on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), amounting to 5.81 per cent of the total mental health budget.
Early intervention and prevention are crucial, with the health, economic and social costs of mental health problems well-established. Yet, many children and young people with mental health problems, for which early diagnosis and treatment are vital, are not receiving appropriate support in an appropriate setting, considerably reducing their life chances.
Mental health must be no longer be seen as a ‘Cinderella’ service, and given equal priority to physical health. In this context we must also turn rhetoric into reality, and the resourcing must be put in place to address greatly increasing demand.
Scotland’s children and young people are in the middle of a mental health crisis, and the issues identified in this report must be an absolute priority for the next Scottish Government and Parliament.
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