SAMH Comment on Mental Health Plans

19th December 2018

SAMH Comment on Mental Health Plans

SAMH welcomes new mental health plans, in particular the Scottish Government’s commitments to deliver a school counselling service and to the recommendation to work towards reducing the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) waiting time target from 18 weeks to 12 weeks.

We are delighted to see the continued commitment to deliver counselling services across all of Scotland’s secondary schools. Our supporters and campaigners have worked tirelessly to bring this about through their support of Going to Be, our campaign on children and young people’s mental health, and we are grateful for their efforts.

Half of mental health problems start before the age of 14, so early intervention is crucial, and we know that school-based counselling has worked well elsewhere in the UK. What’s more, children and young people themselves have told us that they want services for mental and emotional health to be based in schools, where they are easy to access and contribute to a whole-school approach.

SAMH is encouraged with the newly announced actions to reduce pressure on CAMHS. Recent statistics show that over 30% of children and young people are waiting longer than the statutory 18 weeks, demonstrating that the actions proposed are desperately needed.

At SAMH, we believe that 18 weeks is an unacceptably long time for a young person to wait for mental health support and we have repeatedly called for this target to be cut. Therefore, we are pleased that a cut from 18 weeks to 12 weeks has been proposed. This a really positive step towards achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health for children and young people, with most other health problems already subject to a 12 week treatment time target. We note that the target treatment time for adults remains at 18 weeks and would like to see a similar move towards a 12 week target for adults.

We look forward to supporting this work along with others that has the ambition to transform children and young people’s mental health services.