The Scottish Government really need to be stepping up a gear when it comes to the mental health of our children and young people the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said today.
Latest statistics from Public Health Scotland revealed over the period October to December, seven out of 10 (70.3%) of children and young people were seen by CAMHS within 18 weeks – down from 78.6% in the previous quarter, and below the 73.1% recorded in the last three months of 2020.
The Scottish Government’s own target states that 90% of children and young people should start treatment within 18 weeks of being referred to CAMHS for help.
But figures for the last quarter of 2021 showed that in NHS Dumfries and Galloway fewer than half (47.4%) were seen within 18 weeks.
This compares to the 95.2% who were seen within the target time in NHS Grampian.
Of the 10,452 patients who were waiting for a CAMHS appointment as of December 31, just over half (54%) had been on the list for 18 weeks or less.
A fifth (19.8%) of patients had been waiting 19 to 35 weeks, with 11.2% waiting for 36 to 52 weeks, as well as the 15% waiting 53 weeks or more.
A total of 4,544 children and young people started treatment with CAMHS in the last three months of 2021 – an increase of 19.8% on the previous quarter and 11.1% higher than the total from October to December 2020.
The figures also showed a 27% increase in the number of children and young people being referred for help – with the total increasing from 7,882 in the third quarter of 2021 to 10,021 in the last three months of the year.
Dr Helen Smith, chairwoman of the CAMHS Faculty at RCPsych in Scotland, said: “With waiting times on the rise again, the Scottish Government really need to be stepping up a gear when it comes to the mental health of our children and young people.
“CAMHS desperately need more staff to be able to deliver specialist care and there also needs to be much greater co-ordination between services to ensure every young person gets the right support they need at the right time. Early intervention is necessary to prevent a generation of young people suffering with mental health difficulties.
“Our young people need help with their mental health more than ever and we need a proper explanation as to how targets will be met for the future.
“While we welcomed the efforts to invest into CAMHS through the Mental Health and Renewal Fund, this cannot be the end of this investment.
“The Scottish Government must pull out all the stops and outline how they will meet their own target by 2026.”