The national picture for CAMHS

19th February 2018

There are more young people than ever before seeking help for their mental health. This is a really positive indication that stigma is reducing, and a sign that the younger generations are more confident in seeking support when it’s needed.

But it also means a greater demand on services and an increase in waiting times. We need to know more about what this means on a national level so that a more consistent and fair approach can be developed, ensuring that young people in Peterhead have the same opportunities to access services as young people in Paisley.

SAMH’s new Polimapper has been developed to illustrate the current situation for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across Scotland. Broken down by health board, the tool shows the waiting times and rejected referral rates from the past year. And the huge disparities are evident.

Greater Glasgow is leading the way in seeing most referrals within the 18 week waiting time target (97.8 percent); however once seen, almost a third of referrals are rejected – the highest rate in Scotland. Grampian by comparison only sees a third in the 18 week timeframe, and rejects around one in five. Highlands have the lowest rejected referral rate of only 0.3%, but there is a different assessment process here so this may not be a like for like comparison.  

This patchy and unclear picture is why the Scottish Government’s audit on rejected CAMHS referrals is so welcomed.

As part of this audit, SAMH has been commissioned to speak to young people and their families about their experiences of having a CAMHS referral rejected. This work will sit alongside a statistical audit from NSS Information Services Division (ISD) to complete the picture and add context to the data.

We want to ensure that the voices of young people are heard across the country, so are asking young people or their families to take part. You are eligible if you or a member of your family had a referral to CAMHS rejected within the last two years. This piece of work will feed into recommendations to Scottish Government on how processes and services can be improved for young people, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to really make a difference.

Anyone wishing to take part should register their interest here: or email us at to find out more.