Sharp rise in children waiting for mental health services

Nearly 900 young people have been waiting more than a year for help.

The number of children waiting more than a year for mental health services has risen by almost 300 in three months.

Official NHS statistics show that of the 11,839 children and young people waiting to access services at the end of March of this year, 7.4% of them had been doing so for more than 53 weeks.

In total, this means 876 young people across Scotland have been waiting more than a year for help, compared to 589 at the end of December.

And similar new figures from the NHS, published on Tuesday, also show that a total of almost 3,000 people have been waiting more than a year for mental health treatment.

Around 10% of those currently on the waiting list have been there for more than 53 weeks – the equivalent of 2,787 people – with 9.7% waiting between 36 weeks and a year.

The number of young people seen by mental health specialists in the first three months of this year dropped by 8% compared to the same time the year before.

NHS boards representing the islands, which are combined to avoid identifying those seeking treatment, boasted the best record with 95.9% of those seeking treatment being seen in the 18-week period, followed by NHS Borders at 89.8% and NHS Dumfries and Galloway at 87.2%.

NHS Forth Valley had the worst rate with 54.2%, closely followed by NHS Lothian with 54.6%

The number of open cases across Scotland saw a reduction in March, which coincided with the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown measures put in place by the Scottish Government.

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said the figures underline the need for an NHS recovery plan for the period after the Covid-19 outbreak.

She said: “Scottish Labour is committed to supporting the national effort to restore and strengthen our NHS, and that’s why we are urging the Scottish Government to work with all opposition parties to put the health of the nation first.”