Warning of ‘youth mental health crisis’ as urgent referrals rise by 30%

Figures obtained by Scottish Labour revealed an increase in every health board except for NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Scottish Labour warns of ‘youth mental health crisis’ as urgent referrals rise by 30% Getty Images

Urgent referrals to child mental health services increased by 30% in four years, figures obtained by Scottish Labour have revealed.

In 2019-20, there were 3,535 GP referrals sent to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Scotland.

However, in 2022-23 the figure was 4,609 – an increase of 1,074 and a 30.3% rise.

Referrals are considered urgent if a child or young person is considered “actively suicidal”, has “acute psychosis” or there are concerns of serious medical complications associated with an eating disorder, such as rapid weight loss or being significantly underweight, the NHS states.

Statistics obtained by Scottish Labour also showed urgent referrals increased in every health board except NHS Ayrshire and Arran, where a 25% decline was recorded.

But in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, urgent referrals soared by more than 400, from 1,350 in 2019-20 to 1,790 in 2022-23 – an increase of 32.6%.

The party has said the figures show the country has entered a “youth mental health crisis”.

In NHS Grampian, urgent referrals had risen by 29% – from 350 to 453 – while NHS Fife saw a 51% increase – from 466 to 705.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway had a 58% increase, while there was a 40% rise in the Borders health board.

Scottish Labour’s mental health spokesman Paul Sweeney said: “While the SNP Government break their promises over mental health funding, we are seeing the number of urgent CAMHS referrals rising across the country.

“From the Borders to the Highlands, the number of urgent referrals has risen but the SNP has persisted with cuts to mental health services.

“For too long, the SNP has been asleep at the wheel while Scotland has entered a youth mental health crisis.

“While the SNP bury their head in the sand and ignore this crisis, Scottish Labour will continue to fight to deliver the resources and action our young people need.”

The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland have been asked for comment

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