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Letter to the Media – Vulnerable children and young people with mental health problems need care and support

We share the concerns of many over the fact that over the past year more than 20 children and young people have been turned away from Dudhope Young People’s Unit, a specialist mental health unit in Dundee, due to the lack of beds and staff (9th July 2016).

Indeed, we wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Health in May highlighting the fact that only 8 of the 12 beds were occupied due to staffing issues.

The issue of a lack of mental health facilities in Scotland, and the need to provide adequate staffing levels, is one we have raised with the Scottish Government already. This includes the fact that there are only 46 beds in Scotland, no secure beds at all and no specialist mental health units north of Dundee.

Situations such as this are forcing an increasing number of vulnerable children and young people to often travel hundreds of miles for treatment, or they are being treated in adult wards, unsuitable to their requirements.

We are facing an increasing number of children and young people being referred with mental health problems, so a situation such as this clearly does not help.

The appointment of a mental health minister and an additional £150m in expenditure over the next five years is to be greatly welcomed, but it should be noted that less than 0.5 per cent of the NHS budget is spent on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). However, half of all diagnosable mental health problems start before the age of 14, highlighting the importance of prevention and early intervention.

We look forward to working with the Scottish Government on ensuring that our vulnerable children and young people get the care and support that they need.

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About the Author

The SCSC is a collection of leading independent and third sector service providers. Members deliver specialist care and education services for children and young people with complex needs and care experience.