Government told to do better over ‘disappointing’ child mental health services

Press release, Scotland news
05 September 2023

Members from RCPsych in Scotland have called for “sustained” investment in mental health, as “disappointing” figures showed that more than a quarter of children and young people waited longer than the Scottish Government’s target time for specialist help.

The latest figures showed that over April to June 73.8% of patients were seen by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) within 18 weeks.

That is down from the 74.2% achieved in the first three months of 2023, and is well below the Scottish Government target of having 90% of children and young people start receiving treatment within 18 weeks of being referred.

In the three months to the end of June, data from Public Health Scotland showed 5,093 youngsters started receiving help from Camhs – with this up from 4,920 in the previous quarter, but lower than the total of 5,206 from April to June 2022.

There were 6,667 children and young people waiting to start treatment, with the total number on the waiting list down by 13.4% on the previous quarter, and almost a third (31.5%) lower than it was when compared to April to June last year.

That includes 224 youngsters who have been waiting for a year or more.

Dr Helen Smith, chair of the Camhs faculty, RCPsych in Scotland, said: "These are terribly disappointing statistics which are way off the Scottish Government’s own targets. Our children and young people deserve better. 

“Investment in mental health support services at all levels needs to be sustained and planned to enable services to meet the increasing demand.

“It’s time for the Scottish Government to now focus and outline how they intend to meet their own goals, which includes using 1% or what is spent on health to support the mental health needs of our young people by 2026.”

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