A NATIONAL organisation has been warned of a “mental health emergency” with more than 1000 young people waiting over a year for professional support.

Figures released by Public Health Scotland have revealed that 53.5% of the young people in Scotland waiting to be seen by CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) at the end of September 2020 had already waited longer than the target of 18 weeks.

Within the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) area, the number of young people waiting more than 18 weeks to be seen sat at 52.4% with 1451 youths treated within the target period.

By September this year, the average waiting time was 26 weeks, with 2887 young people across the area waiting to be seen by a professional – the highest figure of all the NHS boards. 

At the same time there were 7756 open cases, up from 7583 the previous month.
The report shows that across the country, 959 children and young people had been on the waiting list for over a year and that although referrals to CAMHS had increased again following the drop over the first lockdown, rejected referrals remained stubbornly high at 23.2%.
As of September 20, NHSGGC had 66 patients waiting over 52 weeks. 

Young people who value the service have described the figures as “ridiculous”.

Jodie – which is not her real name – said: “I think it is ridiculous that people have to wait for more than a year to get the mental health support they need.

“I want to know why it is taking so long to actually get referred for the support before even getting an initial consultation. I had a friend whose brother had to go private because it was taking too long to get referred to CAMHS. Not everyone has this option.

“Young people’s mental health is deteriorating, particularly at this time. I don’t know what the solution is but something really has to be done about it. This is definitely a mental health emergency.”

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition called on the Scottish Government to redouble its efforts and for a “national crusade” as the number of referrals returns to pre-lockdown levels.

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesperson said: “We aim to help every child and young person who comes to us, seeing and treating those who need the expertise the CAMH service can offer and signposting others for alternative support.

“We saw a steady rise in referrals through the early part of this year and while the number of referrals are now levelling off, there continues to be a very high demand for this service during what is a very difficult time.

“To address the high demand for this service, we have invested in additional resources including new staff, focussing on those children and young people who have been waiting the longest and those with the highest clinical risk and need.

“Through the HSCPs we continue to work with education departments and third-sector organisations to support those children who do not need to see the CAMH service.”