Mental health service attracts hundreds of children in first six months

‘The Haven’ wellbeing and resilience service opened at The Fraser Centre in Tranent last September.

Mental health service attracts hundreds of children in first six months STV News

A mental health service has attracted hundreds of children in its first six months.

The scheme – developed by Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity – offers support to families and young people in response to long waiting times to prevent problems escalating to professional intervention.

It comes as figures revealed this week show that the number of CAMHS urgent referrals have increased by 30% in four years – sparking a warning from Scottish Labour of a “youth mental health crisis”.

‘The Haven’ wellbeing and resilience service opened at The Fraser Centre in Tranent in September 2023. It is the first centre to open under the Charity’s ‘No Time To Wait’ strategy.

It is open for three afternoons a week and has attracted 1,264 visits in the first six months.

Gillian Messelink’s daughter has autism and ADHD. They’ve been coming to the Haven for just three months but Gillian says she’s already seen a difference in her.

Gillian said: “I just noticed she was struggling more with her anxiety and coping mechanisms and I didn’t really feel that I had the tools to help her.

The service in Tranent is open three times a week.STV News

“I think you can go so far as a parent but you want someone a bit more experienced in these kind of things to take over but there wasn’t really anything available for her.

“Having a local service, five minutes away from school – it’s a safe area.”

The service was developed in response to ECHC’s research, which found that over half of Scottish families have a child who has experienced a mental health concern.

It is hoped the service will be scaled and delivered in community settings and available to all children struggling with their mental health, and their families, across Scotland.

Fiona O’Sullivan, director of Children’ Wellbeing at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity said: “The waiting times generally can be between a year and two years for children and young people who want to access CAMHS but even other charities, third-sector organisations have got long waiting lists because the demand is there.

“Young people are struggling with anxiety, they’re struggling with school attendance, we have young people who we’re seeing self-harming, and we have a lot of neurodivergent children as well accessing our service.

“It’s a really wide variety of difficult situations that children are facing.”

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity’s chief executive, Roslyn Neely, said: “What we always wanted to do was not replace anything that already exist.

“CAMHS obviously is a service which is there for the most acutely unwell children and young people and that’s not what we are but what we’re trying to do is trying to prevent children from needing that at all.”

Mental wellbeing minister Maree Todd said: “We have seen a sustained improvement in CAMHS waits, however we know performance varies across health boards. That is why we provide tailored support to boards with the longest waits to ensure that those who need care can receive it in a timely manner.

“We have doubled investment in mental health services since 2020/21, to £1.3bn, with £290.2m of direct investment, enabling record numbers of staff to provide more varied support and services to a larger number of people than ever before.

“Not all children and young people need specialist services like CAMHS, which is why the Scottish Government has since 2020 invested more than £50m in community-based mental health support for children, young people and their families, with a further £15m being provided to local authorities in 2024-25 to continue delivering this support.”

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