Scotland’s Mental Health Strategy 2017 to 2027 included an important commitment for the Scottish Government to “commission an audit of CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services) rejected referrals, and act upon its findings”.

The first part of this work has now been completed by Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), who, together with NHS Scotland, undertook an audit of the 7,181 young people last year who were referred to CAMHS, but did not receive support. Young people and their families with direct experience of a rejected referral were asked to help shape the future of Scotland’s approach to children and young people’s mental health services.

The audit, published today, sets out 29 recommendations, all of which were accepted. The Government announced the creation of a new CAMHS taskforce to reshape and improve CAMHS, backed with a £5 million investment. Internationally respected mental health expert Dr Dame Denise Coia will head the taskforce, with an expectation that initial recommendations for action will be provided over the summer.

Dr Andrew Reeves, chair of BACP said: “We have engaged closely in the critical debate to improve mental health services for children and young people in Scotland, and fully support this important review into why over 7,000 young people were turned away from CAMHS in Scotland last year.

“Understanding the challenges is central to improving outcomes for our most vulnerable children and young people. We applaud this review and welcome the Scottish Government’s new transformation fund, together with the establishment of a new CAMHS taskforce, as critical first steps in meeting this key challenge.

“A number of the respondents, who had direct experience of the system, highlighted that the Government needs to urgently provide alternatives to CAMHS, including more accessible counselling services.

“BACP has long championed for school-based counselling in Scotland and believe this would go a long away to reducing referrals to these specialist, over stretched and costly services. We will be feeding our extensive evidence on this into the taskforce.”

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SAMH’s response