Improved mental heath services in Falkirk could help 5000 people

Work is now underway to improve mental health services for children and young people in Falkirk that could be asked to help as many as 5000 youngsters every year.

Last October, the council was given nearly £1 million from two separate Scottish Government funds to tackle mental health problems and boost wellbeing.

The council agreed then to bring both funds together to set up a service that would meet a need for mental health services that had been apparent even before the devastating impact of Covid-19.

In the past, there has been criticism of how long children have to wait to be seen by CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) while others, who did not fit its strict criteria, were left with no alternative options.

Work is now underway to improve mental health services for children and young people in Falkirk that could be asked to help as many as 5000 youngsters every year.

At the latest meeting of Falkirk Council's education, children and young people executive, members heard that a manager had been appointed in March and the design work for the new service is well underway.

Head of education, David McKay, told members that there had been good progress but there was still much work to do to fully establish a service that could respond to the needs of children aged from six to 24-years-old or 26 for those who are care-experienced.

Mr McKay assured the meeting that they were very carefully designing the service by involving a wide range of people including those "with lived experience", staff who know the system, young people and parents.

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Councillor Adanna McCue

While the meeting heard that there could be as many as 5000 young people a year needing some sort of support, Mr McKay said this was just an indicative figure that would be refined.

Councillor Adanna McCue, the SNP's spokesperson for education, said: "It's right and proper that we do take the time to get this right.

"In the past, we've provided different services and we've had families and young people dropping through the loopholes, so to be given the time and finances to build a proper service is invaluable."

She also highlighted that the work being done in Falkirk Council had been praised as example of best practice by Scottish Government.

Ms McCue added: "I'm really pleased how you've engaged with families, parents and young people - that's who we need to listen to to get this service right."

But she was keen to know what the service was doing in the interim to help the young people who are saying they really need some support.

Mr McKay replied: "There are a lot of services there already - the difficulty is its not clear how to access them," he said.

"The signposting to these routes is quite challenging and we need to clarify the connectivity as well to make sure the young people are having their needs met by the right person or group."

He also said there would be short-term commissioning of additional services, which would get off the ground in the next couple of weeks.

"Many of these might become part of the new service but we won't know that until we've completed the consultations and planning work."

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