More than 83% of the 76 child and adolescent psychiatrists who responded to an RCPsych in Scotland survey said CAMHS services were very insufficiently or insufficiently resourced, with 43% saying services were poorly staffed.
More than half (57%) said the level of need for mental health services had significantly increased during the pandemic and 47% said there had been a significant increase in waiting times for appointments.
Overall, most respondents (63%) said the pandemic had a very negative impact on the wellbeing of children and young people and 56% thought that the impact of the Covid-19 crisis had been very negative on those with learning difficulties.
Around 44% agreed that schools were not properly linked up with community and specialist mental health support services.
Now the College is calling for the Scottish Government to commit 1% of its health budget to CAMHS services by 2026.
In last week’s Scottish budget an excess of £1.1bn was committed to mental health services.
But there was no confirmation that this will be much of an increase on pre-pandemic mental health spending1.
There was also no guarantee that CAMHS will receive more than its current share of 0.56% of health spending2.
Dr Helen Smith, chair of the children and adolescent faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said:
“During the pandemic we’ve seen a rise in the number of referrals for CAMHS services. But the truth is these services were already under-resourced, understaffed and short-changed before the Covid-19 crisis hit.
“We do not know how the Scottish Government expects us to keep meeting the increased demand for support without increasing the capacity of services.
“There are also concerns that the Wellbeing Framework for schools is not being implemented quickly enough to meet the difficulties expressed by young people.
“Our poll highlights a significant lack of funding for CAMHS services. What we have is a potential mental health emergency on our hands which will burden future generations.
“We need CAMHS to be seriously acknowledged. Funding must be looked at for the sake of our children and young people.”
The College calls come during Children’s Mental Health Week.
1: The previously available forecast for mental health spending was £1.1bn in the 2019-20 Budget.
2: This is based on the latest available confirmed spending for CAMHS, from 2018-19