Scottish Government urged to review CAMHS

7th March 2017

SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) is calling on the Scottish Government to commit to a wholesale review of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) as figures today (Tuesday 7 March) reveal that almost a fifth of children and young people are waiting longer than 18 weeks to get help for their mental health.  

SAMH recognises that spending on CAMHS has been prioritised in the last number of years, but these services are still not meeting the needs of too many young people.

In addition to this failing performance, over 17,500 children and young people in the last three years have been turned away from CAMHS, with little information of what happened to them. That’s more than a quarter of those who sought help.

Billy Watson, Chief Executive of SAMH said:

“These new statistics clearly show that our young people are being failed. 

“By the time they’re 16; three children in every classroom will have experienced a mental health problem. Yet thousands struggle to get the support when they need it.

“CAMHS expenditure currently accounts for just 0.7% of the mental health budget. We query whether this money is being spent in the most appropriate way.  

“As well as additional funds from the Scottish Government, we need investment in what’s called Tiers 1 and 2 of CAMHS – that is early intervention, where children can be helped within schools and communities rather than referred onto specialist services.”

Caitlin-Jay Wyllie-Quinn, a 20 year old student studying Chemistry at Strathclyde University used CAMHS: 

“I first started to experience mental health problems around first year of school and my doctor referred me to CAMHS. 

“I was sent to CAMHS for the second time after a 9 month wait when I was 16, but I was refused help. Because I didn’t receive the professional help I really needed, it was all off my own back to try and make myself feel better.

“If I had received help earlier, and whilst I was in school I don’t think my mental health would have suffered as much.”