When it comes to Mental Health in Scotland it is shameful and a national scandal that vital services are letting young people down. In a report published by the University of Stirling this year, evidence showed that a quarter of the 6,462 children and young people referred to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service in 2013 were rejected. Figures published by the NHS also show that around 17,000 children over the last 3 years have been rejected by CAMHS. While the specific reasons remain unclear as to why these young people were rejected, what the research also highlight`s is that children and young people from the most deprived areas endure a longer waiting time than their counterparts. Evidence within the report also indicates that a large proportion of these young people also have to wait anywhere up to 6 months to start their treatment, leaving these young people vulnerable and without the support they clearly need.
Whilst the above issues are not isolated to Scotland, it is extremely worrying that so many of our young people are being left to fall through the cracks. Despite pro-active measures by teaching professionals who have the ability to refer young people to these specialist services, the young people who are referred have a much higher chance of being rejected by CAMHS than those referred by a GP. We place so much responsibility on to teachers, yet when they are pro-active in attempting to assist their pupils, they are rejected. It is crucial that more research is undertaken to understand the reasons behind this. In addition, it is imperative that we provide teaching professionals with the appropriate training so that they are better equipped to support their pupils.
One student teacher stated:
“Teachers aren’t doctors and as a young trainee teacher I know that teachers are not equipped to deal with mental health issues. My fear is that young people are not receiving the support they need on the grounds of either being referred wrong or indeed being rejected. If a young person`s mental health is in a bad place and the young person does not feel supported, how can we possibly expect them to excel academically?”
Last year Nicola Sturgeon announced that 54 million pounds would be invested to assist with the delivery of this mental health services, yet many of our children and young people are being failed on a daily basis.
It is clear from the evidence provided within the report that the Scottish Government is not doing enough to support our most vulnerable young people. Authors of the report have recommended that more research is undertaken to better understand the mental health situation across more Local Authorities, asking more questions and engaging with the young people who have received or who are waiting to receive support from CAMHS and other mental health provisions.
With this information in mind, I have supported a motion in the Scottish Parliament which welcomes the new research and calls on the Scottish Government to conduct a full review of the system which services are urgently needed by our young people. It time to end this national scandal once and for all.
It`s time that we treat mental health issues as seriously as physical injuries, we can and must do better at supporting our children and young people with mental health issues.
To find out more about the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service, please visit: http://camhs.cnwl.nhs.uk/parents-carers/referrals-appointments/
You can access the report: Patterns of Referral and waiting times for specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, for a small fee here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/camh.12207/pdf