Mental health: Forth Valley youths in crisis face longest delays in Scotland for support

NHS Forth Valley’s chief executive has vowed to improve the length of time it takes for the area’s young people to receive support for mental health issues.

Senior health boss Cathie Cowan made the pledge after it emerged youths in crisis had to wait over a year for help from Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), which posted the longest delays in Scotland.

Young people in Forth Valley waited, on average, 57 weeks for a CAMHS appointment – way above the national average of nine weeks.

The latest statistics for CAMHS waiting times in Scotland, between January and March 2021, also showed more than 60 per cent of patients awaiting treatment with NHS FV went more than 18 weeks without an appointment.

NHS Forth Valley has outlined its plan to improve mental health appointment waiting times in the region. Picture: John Devlin.

A new CAMHS unit has since been created to deal with the backlog.

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Ms Cowan said: “We are committed to improving waiting times for children and young people who require mental health support and a new CAMHS team has recently been established to help manage increased demand.

“We have also recruited a number of additional specialist staff and plan to invest in a number of new community well-being posts.

“Staff in these new roles will work with local council partners to make it quicker and easier for children and young people to access advice and support at an early stage in a wider range of settings.”

Speaking earlier this month, Central Scotland MSP, Stephen Kerr, labelled the figures “appalling” and reflective of a “mental health crisis engulfing children and young people”.

He said: “The Covid crisis and ongoing lockdown restrictions have only increased mental health issues among our young people but this SNP Government has completely failed to tackle the problem and it has got far worse.

“We need an urgent plan from SNP ministers to guarantee that vulnerable young people will be seen as quickly as possible and our health board is given every resource they need to tackle mental health.

“For every young person and their families waiting for vital mental health support across Falkirk, this is a totally unacceptable situation which cannot be allowed to continue.”

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