As a coalition we were delighted to be represented at the Mental Health Summit hosted by Jim Hume MSP (31st July 2015).
This highlighted some of the key issues facing the sector and the realisation that we are facing a lost generation of children and young people who are not receiving the care and support that they so desperately need through a lack of early intervention.
Overstretched mental health professionals are facing a greatly increased number of referrals for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), which have increased by over a third over the last 2 years.
Yet, while research suggests that 20% of children have a mental health problem in any given year, and about 10% at any one time this has not fed into funding, where only 0.45% of NHS Scotland expenditure was on child and adolescent mental health, compared with 0.7% in England.
While almost half of Health Boards are in breach of Scottish Government waiting time targets the number of children and young people being sent to non-specialist adult and paediatric units is also on the increase.
The long-term cost to society of failing to treat these conditions is well-established, with many of these young people become unemployed, turning to crime, or ending up with long-term mental health conditions which could have been prevented through early intervention.
We of course welcome what the Scottish Government has done to date in providing additional funding for CAMHS, but more needs to be done, including greater collaboration with the independent and third sectors, or we are simply storing up a ticking time bomb for the future.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition:
Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Scotland
Tom McGhee, Managing Director, Spark of Genius
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland
Stuart Jacob, Director, Falkland House School
Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations