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(UK) Scotland: Call for 'mental health …services in every primary/secondary school'

Jun 16, 2022, Dumbarton Reporter: West Dunbartonshire children wait for mental health care https://www.dumbartonreporter.co.uk/news/20214300.west-dunbartonshire-children-wait-mental-health-care/

Scotland

Two West Dunbartonshire children have been waiting for urgent mental health support for around 10 months, it has been revealed.

The youngsters, and other local families, have been left to struggle with the likes of autism, anxiety and depression while languishing on a waiting list for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie expressed her frustrations after Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar addressed the Scottish Parliament on the matter during First Minister’s Questions recently and called on the SNP to act.

She said: “To listen to Anas Sarwar talk about examples of local West Dunbartonshire families struggling whilst they wait for their child to be able to access mental health support is truly heart-breaking.

“The SNP are intent on blaming the pandemic but this problem was around prior to 2020 and, of course, the distress of lockdowns has exacerbated the issue, however the Scottish Government has failed to act despite repeated warnings….

“We need a mental health professional in every GP practice as well as face-to-face services in every primary and secondary school. These are real solutions that can be put in place rather than the First Minister offering warm words but little action, year after year.

“Since 2015, Nicola Sturgeon has told how waiting times are too long and that they are unacceptable. The same hollow words are wheeled out again and again while the people living their lives on a waiting list continue to suffer and struggle.”

Mr Sarwar recounted that an eight-year-old boy diagnosed with autism 10 months ago has been waiting to see a psychiatrist while his condition has become worse. He is begging for the medication – in his words – to "sort out my head". …

Kevin Stewart, minister for mental wellbeing, told the Reporter: “Long waits for treatment are unacceptable and we remain committed to meet the standard that 90 per cent of patients begin treatment within 18 weeks of referral.

“We have invested £40 million [$49M] to improve CAMHS and to clear all backlogs by March 2023. We are also continuing to work directly with health boards with the poorest performance to ensure the 18-week waiting time standard is met.

“We have already ensured access to counselling support services in all secondary schools in Scotland. And we have started work to develop mental health services in primary care, with a link worker available in every GP practice, with funding rising to £40 million in 2023-24.”

The minister said the Scottish Government has already provided an additional £15m [$18M] to local authorities to deliver locally based mental health and wellbeing support for 5-24 year olds in their communities, providing alternative treatment options and pathways to CAMHS and ensured access to counselling support services in all secondary schools.

Mr Stewart added: “We have started work to implement the National CAMHS Service Specification, which sets out the levels of service that children, young people and families can expect from CAMHS across Scotland, and will publish a new long-term mental health workforce plan in the first half of this parliament.

"Since 2007 CAMHS staffing has nearly doubled, by 95.6 per cent, and we continue to create new posts.

“This package of commitments is designed to help ensure the right help is available, in the right place, at the right time.”

“We need a mental health professional in every GP practice as well as face-to-face services in every primary and secondary school."

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