We were delighted to be represented at this week’s Mental Health Summit hosted by Jim Hume MSP. It 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 they 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 past two years.
Yet, while research suggests that 20 per cent of children have a mental health problem in any given year, and about 10 per cent at any one time, this has not fed into funding, where only 0.45 per cent of NHS Scotland expenditure was on child and adolescent mental health, compared with 0.7 per cent 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 becoming unemployed, turning to crime, or ending up with long-term mental health conditions which could have been prevented through early intervention.
We 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 comprising:
Spark of Genius
Who Cares? Scotland
Falkland House School