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29th May 2015 at 01:00

Don't delay when it comes to child mental health

While we welcome the Scottish government's increased investment of pound;85 million in mental health services, we urge the government to act quickly to ensure that NHS health boards achieve their waiting time targets for access to child and adolescent services.

The Scottish government set a target from March 2013 for the NHS in Scotland to deliver a maximum waiting time of 26 weeks from a patient's referral to specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). From December 2014 this target reduced to 18 weeks. The target should be delivered for at least 90 per cent of patients.

But figures released last week show that only 11 of Scotland's 14 health boards have achieved the 26-week waiting time target for 90 per cent of patients, and that just eight of the health boards currently achieve the 18-week waiting time target for 90 per cent of patients.

The NHS in Scotland provides mental health services for children and young people with a wide range of mental health conditions, including autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, behaviour problems, depression and early-onset psychosis.

As a coalition we are delighted that the Scottish government has committed an additional pound;85 million in mental health services over the next five years and that this is to be partly used to address child and adolescent mental health waiting time targets. We urge the Scottish government to act quickly to ensure that those health boards that are failing to meet waiting time targets are given the support they need to do so, ensuring that children and young people requiring these services do not miss out.

Families usually experience months of waiting even before a referral to CAMHS. The consequent delay in diagnosis and appropriate support can result in crisis and the need for costly extra resources.

Alex Orr, policy adviser to the Scottish Children's Services Coalition

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