Jeane Freeman, the new Minister for Health in the Scottish Government has stated that the system for rejecting referrals in mental health support for young people is completely unacceptable.
To respond to this and other concerns a CAHMS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) Task force is being set up with an initial investment of £5million.
An audit conducted across all Health Boards in Scotland found that 1 in 5 referrals for support were rejected. The majority of these had been done without an actual face to face meeting. The audit indicated from its findings that there was a gap in services and the needs of young people with mental health issues were not being met.
The new task force will be headed by Dr Dame Denise Coia.
“I am delighted and honoured to take forward such important work. Children and young people are talking about their mental health and wellbeing, and we need to hear them. We need to improve services in a cohesive way to respond with practical and emotional support as well as clinical treatment.
“I’m particularly pleased that this is an initiative to be delivered in partnership between the Scottish Government and local authorities, because I think this is key to our chances of success. I’m looking forward to working with colleagues in health, education, children’s services and the third sector, to improve children’s mental health services delivery.”
Jeane Freeman has accepted all 29 of the recommendations from the report based on 4 key themes: further research, meeting the needs of children, young people and their families, practical changes to the existing system, and improving data collection. The audit also suggested that even with making the changes recommended that the system was likely to need substantial reform.
Jeane Freeman said:
“Demand on mental health services is growing but far too many young people are being turned away from help or waiting too long to be seen. This report finds that, while CAMHS may not be the right path for some of those referred, young people are being rejected from treatment without proper explanation or being directed to more appropriate care. That is completely unacceptable.
“I am accepting the recommendations in this report and I am determined that our mental health service will be refounded on the need to empathise, engage and explain how to get help to often very vulnerable young people.”