'Deeply troubling' figures show thousands of children waiting more than a year for mental health treatment

Charities have called for more spending on child mental health services after figures from Public Health Scotland showed thousands had been waiting more than a year for treatment.

More than 1,500 children had been waiting a year for treatment.

In the last quarter of 2020 73 per cent of referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were not seen within the Scottish Government’s 18-week target.were seen within 18 weeks, an improvement on the previous quarter, at 61 per cent, but below the Scottish Government target of 90 per cent.

More than 1,500 children had been waiting a year or more for treatment – an increase of 165 per cent in 2020.

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Separate figures also released on Tuesday showed that 80 per cent of adults began receiving psychological treatment within 18 weeks of referral, compared to 79 per cent last year. The target waiting period for these services is also 90 per cent seen within 18 weeks.

The figures are a signal of strain on Scotland’s mental health services, charities warned, but Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey called the improvement in waiting times “encouraging”.

Jo Anderson of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) said: “Scotland’s mental health services were struggling before the pandemic, and today’s figures demonstrate once again that we need a radical new plan.

"Young people deserve the right to get help the first time they ask, without fearing that they will be turned away. And the need for quick access to psychological wellbeing support has never been greater.”

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The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) called for an “urgent” increase in mental health spending.

A spokesperson said: “These latest figures are deeply troubling and point to a highly challenging environment for both our young people and our mental health services.

"We welcome the fact that the Scottish Government is intending to invest more than £1.1 billion in mental health services overall, but significantly greater funding is needed to address the current crisis facing our children and young people.”

Ms Haughey said the announcement of £120 million for a Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund is the largest investment in mental health in the history of devolution.

“It will prioritise our ongoing work to improve specialist CAMHS services, address long waiting times, and clear waiting list backlogs,” she said.

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