Response to latest CAMHS figures for Scotland, which highlight the need for prevention

Responding to the latest CAMHS figures issued today, Julie Cameron, Head of Programmes at the Mental Health Foundation Scotland said: 

“Today’s figures highlight that once again the current system is failing to meet the needs of too many children and young people. Not only are waiting times for young people not being reached, but they’re worsening.  It’s vital that we recognise that mental ill health is the single biggest public health challenge facing children and young people and unless we make significant investment in prevention we’ll continue to see more children needing specialist support. 

“The spend on children and young people’s mental health services remains a fraction of the overall spend on mental health and in comparison to physical health. As a result, the referral pathways to CAMHS continues to be patchy and inconsistent across the country, referrals are increasingly rejected with few alternatives provided by professionals, data gathering is limited and waiting lists are getting longer. 

“Our recent ‘State of a Generation’ report highlighted that hundreds of thousands of young people in Scotland feel isolated, lonely and uncertain where to access the support they need when experiencing mental health problems. This paints a worrying picture of young people living across Scotland today, with many reporting that they have not received the support they’ve needed, often at times of crisis.

“But it’s not all about specialist services.  We cannot treat our way out of a crisis, and today’s figures reinforce the importance of both early intervention and prevention for young people’s mental health, with an investment in creating conditions in which young people can grow into resilient adults. Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, can happen at any age. But childhood and young adulthood represents such a crucial time for development. It’s vital we speak to young people to understand what challenges their mental health, as well as protects and promotes it, and introduce ways to help them reach their full potential. 

“It’s clear that there’s so much more we need to do to make sure right support is available for young people living in Scotland today. That’s why continue to highlight to the Scottish Government the need to create mentally friendly school environments where all teachers are trained in mental health, and where young people are taught about managing stressful life events and building resilience, tackling head on the root causes of distress.”