More than 20% of child mental health referrals rejected, figures show

Calls have been made for the Scottish Government to improve the performance of services.

More than 20% of child mental health referrals rejected, figures show Getty Images

More than 20% of referrals to children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) were rejected in 2022, figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats show.

Freedom of information data from Scottish health boards showed that out of 37,728 referrals to CAMHS last year 8,576 were rejected – some 22.7%.

The proportion of cases rejected varied significantly by health board.

In NHS Borders and Forth Valley, more than 40% of cases were rejected.

NHS Glasgow and Greater Clyde, the country’s largest health board, had a rejection rate of 28%.

Referrals for CAMHS can come from GPs, schools or hospital A&E departments.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said Humza Yousaf should take action to improve CAMHS performance.

He said: “I was shocked to discover that as many as four in ten young people are being rejected from mental health support services.

“Long waits and letters of rejection just aren’t good enough.

“Two years ago Scottish Liberal Democrats secured an additional £120m for mental health services but that is just the start of our ambition.

“No young person who seeks mental health support should come up against these road blocks.

“My party will continue to fight to double the number of specialist psychiatrists for young people in training and ensure that there is no wrong door for accessing service so that families are never sent back to the start of the process.

“This is the kind of issue that should be at the top of the First Minister’s in-tray.

“He failed to fix it as health secretary, now he needs to make amends.”

Mental wellbeing minister Maree Todd said the Scottish Government is committed to supporting people to access the care system, saying that across 2022/23 the Scottish Government allocated an extra £46m to improve mental health and psychological services.

She said: “We know that CAMHS will only be the right service for a small proportion of children and young people.

“To provide an alternative to the service, over the last two years we have invested £30m in community-based mental health supports for children, young people and their families.

“Local authorities report that 45,000 people accessed those services between July and December last year.

“We are also providing £16m a year to local authorities to ensure that every secondary school has access to a school counsellor.

“Authorities have confirmed that services are in place across Scotland.

“The service is available for children and young people over the age of ten.”

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