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Nearly 2k children wait more than a year for CAMHS support in Scotland

Call for action as Covid blamed for 100 per cent rise in a year

Published by Professional Social Work magazine, 7 December, 2021

The number of children and young people waiting more than a year for mental health services in Scotland had doubled to almost 2,000 during Covid.

The rise has sparked calls for action by the government to act to address a “mental health pandemic” due to the impact of lockdowns, social isolation and anxiety on the lives of young people.

New figures published by Public Health Scotland today show 1,978 children and young people had been waiting more than a year for treatment from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) by the end of September 2021.

The figure for the same time in 2020 was 959.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition – an alliance of providers of children’s services – called for urgent investment to avoid a “lost generation” impacted by Covid-19.

A spokesperson said: “We are urging the Scottish government to make the forthcoming budget a budget for mental health for our children and young people.

“For some time we have raised concerns over a potential lost generation of vulnerable children and young people, whose mental health is being impacted even further by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It is more important than ever that children can access the support they need, when they need it, irrespective of where they live.“To achieve this there must be a radical transformation of our mental health services, investing in specialist services and with a focus on preventing such problems arising in the first place and intervening early.”

The Public Health Scotland figures for the quarter ending September this year, show 78,882 children and young people were referred to CAMH during the period.

Of these, 3,792 children started treatment with CAMHS.

Almost eight out of ten (78.6 per cent) were seen within 18 weeks – an increase of 60.6 per cent for the same quarter in 2020, but below the government’s target of 90 per cent.

Separate Public Health Scotland figures also show the number of children on anti-depressant medication has soared by more than 80 per cent to 20,825 over the last decade.

The Scottish government announced an extra £10.83 million on CAMHS in September, part of a £120 million Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund announced in February.