South Scotland MSP Brian Whittle is urging the Scottish Government to redouble their efforts to tackle long waiting times for young people seeking mental health treatment.
The call comes as a new report from Public Health Scotland shows that at the end of March over 2000 children and young people across the country had been waiting for more than a year to get help with their mental health. The figures vary significantly between health boards. While only three people waited longer than a year for treatment in NHS Ayrshire & Arran, the figure in neighbouring NHS Lanarkshire is 250, which is a drastic increase from before the pandemic.
Describing the waiting times as “unacceptable”, Scottish Conservative Brian said that no-one in Scotland should be waiting more than a year for mental health support and has urged the Scottish Government to ensure every health board has the support it needs to deliver help to every vulnerable young person who needs it, when they need it.
Brian Whittle MSP said:
“Anyone having to wait more than a year for treatment is completely unacceptable. Whether it’s 250 patients in Lanarkshire or 3 in Ayrshire and Arran, my view is the same – just one child waiting a year for mental health support is too many.
Even before the pandemic the Scottish Government were missing their targets for mental health treatment and now, the situation has only become worse. Not only has it been more difficult to access these services, the pandemic has put more pressure on many young people’s mental health.
I’ve long argued that we need to give more support to the NHS services and mental health charities that provide vital help to people who need it.
The Scottish Government must do what it takes to eliminate these long waits and commit to giving health boards and local support organisations the funding and support they need to deliver help to those who need it, when they need it – not in a year’s time.”