Concerns raised after thousands of children miss Scottish Government target of gettng treated for mental health issues in the last year
NEW FIGURES HAVE revealed that thousands of children have been waiting more than four months for mental health treatment over the past year.
Scottish Labour found that more than 3,500 children for the year up to March 2017, have been waiting more than the Scottish Government target of 18 weeks to be treated for mental health problems via the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
As a result, there are concerns from children’s charities in Scotland that the Scottish Government 18-week target for a child who is suffering from mental health issues is too long to wait for support.
Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said: “I am very sad for the 3,500 children and young people who have been parked on mental health waiting lists for several months. The warm words of SNP ministers are amounting to nothing for these youngsters and their families.
“Getting access to mental health treatment is vital to helping children and young people recover and carry on with their studies.” Monica Lennon
“Getting access to mental health treatment is vital to helping children and young people recover and carry on with their studies.”
According to Scottish Labour, the figures show the scale of the “SNP’s mismanagement of the NHS” and reinforce the case of having a school-based counsellor in every secondary school similar to the ones used in high schools in Wales for the past decade.
In Wales, the service is designed to guarantee pupils’ access to a qualified, professional counsellor on site as required. It has delivered dramatic reductions in students’ distress in the first few years, and teachers have noticed an improvement of students’ behaviour in the classroom.
The Scottish Government announced in March a review into CAMHS’ “rejected referrals” after figures revealed that 17,000 cases had been knocked back over the past three years.
“If we are ever to close Scotland’s shameful attainment gap, we must tackle the growing mental health crisis affecting our young people.” Monica Lennon
Lennon added: “The SNP government claims it is prioritising education and mental health, but it needs to own up to the heart-breaking truth of children being failed by the system and start listening to them and experts.
“If we are ever to close Scotland’s shameful attainment gap, we must tackle the growing mental health crisis affecting our young people.”
CAMHS provides a range of services across agencies – NHS, local authorities, third and independent sectors – to support the mental health of children and young people. The kind of support that CAMHS covers include depression, problems with food and schizophrenia.
“Investing in trauma-informed community services would mean more children get help more quickly; prevent the unnecessary labelling of children as mentally ill and reduce waiting times for those children who require very specialist treatment.“ Mary Glasgow
In Scotland, there are local NHS CAMHS services with teams made up of nurses, therapists, psychologists, support worker and social workers, as well as other workers.
The Scottish Government target of treating children and young people within 18 weeks starts from when they are referred by a GP, or when getting treatment in hospital, but there are concerns from children’s charities, such as Children 1st, that 18 weeks is too long for a child suffering from mental health problems to get the right support.
Mary Glasgow, director of children and families services and external affairs at Children 1st, added: “If Scotland is to achieve its ambition of being the best place in the world to grow up, we urgently need to reverse the decline in preventative community based services which support children and families and safeguard good mental health.
“While many children need support, not all of them require the very specialist clinical help CAMHS provide.
“Our new mental health strategy is committed to a review of personal and social education in schools to ensure every child has access to any appropriate support, counselling, or pastoral guidance they may need.” Scottish Government
“But right now the lack of investment in early support means that too often the only option for GP’s or schools is a referral to CAMHS.
“Investing in trauma-informed community services would mean more children get help more quickly; prevent the unnecessary labelling of children as mentally ill and reduce waiting times for those children who require very specialist treatment. “
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Local authorities and schools use a range of approaches and resources to support children and young people with their mental and emotional wellbeing in line with their obligations under the Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) Act (Scotland) 2007.
“We take child and adolescent mental health very seriously and that’s why our new mental health strategy is committed to a review of personal and social education in schools to ensure every child has access to any appropriate support, counselling, or pastoral guidance they may need.
“And we will also be rolling out mental health training for those who support children and young people in schools.”
Picture courtesy of Alachua County
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