Hundreds of children waited more than a year for mental health care

A TOTAL of 233 children and young people in Lothian had to wait more than a year for mental health treatment in 2018.

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 5:00 am
Young Scots are waiting too long for mental health appointments. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The figure is far higher than anywhere else in Scotland, with just 55 children and young people in the same position across the whole of the rest of the country.

And it represents a big increase on the 153 in Lothian who waited more than a year in 2017.

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The latest statistics on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) also show 41 per cent of patients in Lothian were not seen within the target time of 18 weeks.

The Scottish Government announced a £4 million investment last month to recruit an additional 80 mental health professionals to work with children and young people.

But opposition politicians described the current situation as “utterly unacceptable” and “a national scandal”.

Lothian MSP and Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “One of the hardest aspects of being an MSP is people coming to my advice surgeries desperate to get mental health support for their children.

“I have parents in Lothian who have been told by GPs to go private to access support for their children as NHS Lothian don’t have capacity to see them.

“Parents and families I represent are beyond wanting an apology from SNP Minsters. After 11 years in office they feel totally abandoned by this SNP Government with the situation in NHS Lothian getting worse.”

Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said thousands of young people had been failed in their hour of need.

“Looking after the mental health and wellbeing of Scotland’s children and young people should be a national priority, but these figures show it is clearly not being treated as such by the SNP government.

“Early intervention is vital when a young person is struggling with their mental health and a properly resourced NHS would deliver this.”

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition acknowledged efforts by the Scottish Government. But a spokesman said: “There must be a radical transformation of our mental health services, with a focus on preventing such problems arising in the first place and intervening early, especially when we know that half of all mental health problems begin before the age of 14.”

Mental health minister Clare Haughey welcomed a 12 per cent increase in the number of children and young people seen by CAMHS in 2018. She added: “Our £250 million package of measures outlined in the latest Programme for Government, will help see more children and young people get the support they need in the community, rather in the acute CAMHS settings covered by these statistics.

“We have also ensured additional funding to help boards improve their performance against these waiting times.”