Hundreds of children wait over two years for mental health care

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for fresh funds for mental health services.

Hundreds of children wait over two years for mental health care iStock

Hundreds of children have been waiting for over two years to access mental health care, according to new figures.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to health boards by the Scottish Liberal Democrats indicates there are currently 392 young people who have waited for over 24 months and not received treatment.

The statistics are according to FOI requests made by the party, as well as analysis of Public Health Scotland data.

One young person in NHS Grampian who started treatment this year, the figures indicate, had waited for 2534 days for their care to begin.

Fife, Lothian and Highland reported waits of more than two years, with more than 140 children and young people who started treatment in 2020/2021 having waited more than two years for their care to start.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex-Cole Hamilton said children had been failed by Scotland’s mental health care system.

“This is a shocking catalogue of failures. Waits of two years or more for mental health care are torturous,” he said.

“Problems that start small if left untreated become crises. It breaks my heart to know that children are being failed for so long by Scotland’s current mental health care system.  

“If your child breaks their arm, you would expect them to be seen the same day but if they come forward with a mental health condition their wait can last for years.  

“The SNP is guilty of over a decade of NHS mismanagement and these statistics prove it. They have been failing generations of young adults in need of swift mental health help.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader indicated that a timeline is needed to clear CAMHS waiting lists.

“My party has championed the cause of Scotland’s mental health, securing £120m in last year’s budget but it is clear that this is just the beginning of what is necessary,” he said.

“We need a detailed timeline to clear CAMHS waiting lists backed up with fresh funds for mental health services and more local and accessible services and practitioners. 

“Scottish Liberal Democrats put forward a motion which was backed by the Scottish Parliament to declare a mental health emergency. The Government need to act like it.”  

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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