Care for youth

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We were struck by the latest figures which highlight the fact that more than half of health boards are failing to meet an 18-week waiting time target for children and young people to access treatment for mental health conditions (your report, 26 August).

While we applaud the additional £100 million of funding the Scottish Government has invested in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), more action is clearly needed to ensure that these vulnerable young people receive the vital support they both deserve and require.

Indeed, evidence points to the fact that only 0.45 per cent of NHS Scotland expenditure is spent on child and adolescent mental health, compared with 0.7 per cent in England and 0.8 per cent in Wales.

Against the background of a greatly increased demand for CAMHS it is vital that the Scottish Government act quickly and increase investment from this current figure, as well as ensuring that health boards that are failing to meet waiting time targets are given the support they need to address this.

This will mean those children and young people requiring these vital services do not miss out. Families usually experience months of waiting even before a referral to CAMHS and the consequent delay in diagnosis and appropriate support can result in crisis for the young person and their family, and the need for costly extra resources.

The long-term cost to society of failing to treat these conditions is well-established, with those affected more likely to be unemployed, in the criminal justice system, or ending up in extremely costly long-term care.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, 
comprising:

Sophie Pilgrim

Kindred Scotland

Tom McGhee

Spark of Genius

Duncan Dunlop

Who Cares? Scotland

Stuart Jacob

Falkland House School

Niall Kelly

Young Foundations

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