As a coalition, whose members support those children and young people with mental health problems, we were struck by the launch of the campaign calling for an increase in funding for mental health services in England (2nd November).
Over 200 celebrities have backed the push for mental health to be treated as seriously as other illnesses.
Like this campaign, we in Scotland have been campaigning for some time to ensure the levels of investment match those of physical health, achieving ‘parity of esteem’. As we know, half of all diagnosable mental health conditions start before the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 21. Early intervention is therefore crucial, with the health, economic and social costs of mental health problems well-established.
However, despite the welcome attention paid by the Scottish Government to this matter, we know that NHS Scotland spends just 8.6 per cent of its total funding treating mental health problems, whereas in the English and Welsh health services the figure is 11.9 per cent.
When it comes to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), only 0.45 per cent of NHS Scotland expenditure is spent on addressing this, amounting to 5.56 per cent of the total mental health budget.
We need considerably greater resourcing from government to address a greatly increased demand. Staffing levels have not kept pace with demand, a number of Health Boards are failing to meet their targets for CAMHS treatment and we are also witnessing an increased number of children and young people being sent to non-specialist adult and paediatric wards for treatment.
What is required is early intervention and preventative measures to ensure that we can address these problems at the right time, rather than wait until people require more intensive – and expensive – treatment further down the line.
In the run up to the forthcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections we urge all the political parties to join with us in calling for greater resourcing for our mental health services.
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