Cole-Hamilton: we need new hope for child mental health provision

By Lucy Ashton

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, RIGHT, has called for new hope for child mental health provision in Scotland, after a study finds that there are vast differences in the provision of child mental health services across health boards in Scotland.

Dr Lynne Gilmour of the University of Stirling led the study, which examined referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in two health boards, referred to as Site A and Site B, between January and June of 2019.

It found that 25% of children referred to CAMHS were either thinking about suicide or had attempted suicide. Of these children, just 31% were offered an appointment in one health board, compared to 82% in the second board.

Mr Cole-Hamilton has outlined his strategy to create a parity of robust mental health provision across Scotland. This includes:  

* A mental health first aider at every stage of education

* A further roll-out of counsellors to ensure access in all schools

* To lower the referral bar for young people from deprived communities as we know those at risk of multiple adverse experiences need access to early support

* A single point of contact for CAMHS waiting lists so that GPs and families can understand if remaining on it offers a real opportunity for care

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “I find it devastating that children who are suicidal might never be offered an appointment under CAMHS.

“Successive Health Secretaries have spent years trying to spin a positive tale even as waits for young people get longer and longer. They should take a long, hard look at themselves.

“My party have been long-standing advocates for improving the provision of Scotland’s mental health. This means having counsellors and mental health first aiders available at every stage of education, lowering referral bars and introducing earlier support, as well as establishing a single point of contact for CAMHS waiting lists.

“No child should ever feel suicidal; we need to move heaven and earth to ensure every child knows that they are loved and supported.”

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