Children’s Year Long Wait for NHS Mental Health Support
With the pandemic impacting the mental health of our younger generations, we should see a more significant focus on better access to mental health support. Instead, we are faced with the fact that the number of children waiting at least a year for mental health treatment from the NHS since the pandemic hit.
In March 2020, 695 young people were waiting at least 52 weeks for their first appointment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). However, by March 2021, this figure had reached 2,012. The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) has said that the figures were the ‘worst on record’.
The SCSC has raised concerns over a ‘lost generation’ of vulnerable children and young people whose mental health has taken a massive hit due to Covid-19. So what can we do to ensure these children aren’t left behind, their mental health concerns disregarded or not supported quick enough?
The Mental Health Pandemic
The new report on CAMHS waiting times has said that the March 2021 figure of 2,012 was at the “highest level across the year”. Suggested reasons for this increase in wait times include a combination of school closures, children not having access to confidential spaces for a digital appointment, or a desire to wait for face-to-face appointments.
In 2014, the Scottish government said that 90% of children waiting for a CAMHS appointment should be seen within 18 weeks. However, this target has frequently been missed – even before the pandemic. More recently, 50% of the 11,007 on the waiting list at the end of March 2021 had been waiting longer than 18 weeks. 2,582 were waiting between 19 and 35 weeks, while a shocking 937 had been waiting 36 to 52 weeks.
What these figures don’t show is the situation these children waiting for these appointments are in. They don’t tell us their mental state, what their home life is like, or whether they are suffering from abuse or bullying that they aren’t being supported through. The longer these children are without adequate mental health support, the worse their mental state can and will become.
What Can Be Done?
If we leave children and young people to face mental health issues alone, over time, they can develop into more severe concerns like depression, which will follow them through to adulthood and beyond. Some children can even become suicidal if they are facing depressive thoughts which plague their daily life. Rather than letting these children become another mental health statistic, we need to work together as a community to find them support.
Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or another adult in a child’s life who sees they are struggling, you need to get them on the right path to recovery. With wait times for NHS services increasing, this is no longer the best option for providing children and adolescents with proper mental health support.
Working with therapists, such as myself, ensures that your child is at the centre of everything we do. They aren’t just another name on a list, but rather a whole, complex person with needs which I can meet. Therapy for children and young people provides them with the safe space they need to be open and honest about any concerns they have or situations they have found themselves in. By helping them overlook the stigma sometimes attached to therapy for young people, I can help them see our partnership as a means to understand their mental health and ensure it remains happy and healthy.
Please look at my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can support your mental health journey. If you need support or know someone who does, please don’t hesitate to contact me. When it comes to children and young people, it’s best to start supporting them as early as possible to ensure they have a bright future ahead with no mental health concerns.