Cole-Hamilton: Child mental ill health at crisis levels

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has today said that child and adolescent mental ill health is at crisis levels and that services need to make a difference early on, after a new independent report warned young people are falling through gaps in the system and that a step change is required across the public sector.

The new report from the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission, published today, also observed:

  • "the system is complex and fragmented, and access to services varies throughout the country"
  • "children and young people get bounced between services and professionals, adding to their anxiety"
  • "There are several points in the pathway where a child or young person can drop out of the system"
  • "While children and young people are waiting for treatment, they may receive little or no support or advice. This means that their condition may deteriorate"
  • "It is not clear how the Scottish Government’s mental health strategy will improve outcomes for children and young people"
  • "transforming services will only be possible with a clearer view of what works, a plan for how the system needs to change and a move away from reliance on short-term and isolated initiatives".

Commenting on the report Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

"I've seen the benefits that good mental healthcare can have, transforming lives and allowing people to achieve their potential. But despite the best efforts of staff, this report shows that the overall picture is poor and getting worse.

"Mental ill health among our young people is at crisis levels. I have found people waiting well over a year for the treatment they desperately need and this report confirms that they receive little to no help in the meantime.

"Services have been neglected for so long by the Scottish Government that they are having to focus on fighting fires, rather than delivering the transformation that mental health services need.

"Liberal Democrats have laid out clear plans to end the scandal of long waits and long journeys for treatment, including doubling the CAMHS budget, establishing mental health beds north of Dundee and putting mental health practitioners capable of treating people in every GP surgery and A&E in the country.

“The Scottish Government needs to come to Parliament and explain what they’re going to do about this.”

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