‘Nightmare’ in young people’s mental health services

An official audit of Scotland’s mental health services has revealed a ‘nightmare’ scenario where hundreds of young people are rejected for treatment despite being referred by their doctor.

Ninety per cent of young people rejected by mental health services were referred by their GP (80 per cent), a nurse, a psychiatrist, or a paediatrician. But instead of receiving proper care, they are being told that their mental health problems are insufficiently severe.

Parents and families also complained of being left in the dark after being rejected. One parent said that:

“We were told….we recognise that you have anxiety issues, this was to my daughter, but they’re not severe and you’re self-harming, but it’s not severe enough for us to be able to offer you support. If things get worse, you’re welcome to go back to your GP for a further referral.”

The lack of funding was widely recognised as a serious problem, with patients and parents calling for increased financial support and incentives to increase the number of clinical psychologists and therapists.

Responding to the report, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said:

“The findings of this report are quite shocking.

“It reveals what Labour has said for years - that the overwhelming majority of these referrals are made by health professionals, and that young people are rejected without proper explanation and further support.

“The evidence, that children were deemed not ill enough to merit treatment, even when they are self-harming, is a matter of grave concern.

“Politicians of all parties preach about early intervention when it comes to health –  this report also shows the impact that poverty is likely to have on accessing treatment, it reinforces the need for preventative action on poverty and inequality too.

“Tough questions need to be answered on why this report was published they day after parliament went into recess. Ministers can try to bury bad news but they cannot dodge these findings. The government should immediately take action to ensure every school has access to a counsellor.”

You can read the full report here.

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