Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Covid-19)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 25th February 2021.

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Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to measure and mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on child and adolescent mental health. (S5O-05058)

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

We have invested significantly in additional mental health support for children and young people during the pandemic. We also continue to monitor surveys, research and referral rates to provide us with an understanding of how children and young people are feeling during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that the right help and support are available.

In November, we announced an additional £15 million to respond to children and young people’s mental health issues, building on our previous investment and commitments. Of that amount, £11.25 million is dedicated to services that respond to the pandemic. The remaining £3.75 million will fund new and enhanced community mental health and wellbeing services for five to 24-year-olds. I know that the member will have been pleased to see that £445,000 of that funding was allocated to Dundee to provide new services that focus on prevention, early intervention and the treatment of distress.

In addition, last week we announced £120 million for a mental health recovery and renewal fund. The fund will ensure delivery of the mental health transition and recovery plan, including by prioritising work to improve specialist CAMH services, address long waiting times and improve other mental health supports and services for children and young people.

We continue to prioritise support for mental health and wellbeing in schools and education through actions such as the mental health in schools working group and counselling in schools. We have also invested in a range of other measures to support young people, including digital resources on mental health and wellbeing that are available via YoungScot’s website and social media.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

I thank the minister for that comprehensive reply. Can she say more about how CAMH services will be supported during the recovery phase, particularly in relation to waiting times? How will progress that has been made in response to the independent inquiry into Tayside mental health services be maintained? Will the timing of the progress report, which was initially scheduled to come out in February, be affected by the pandemic?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

The transition and recovery plan takes a number of actions to progress improvement on access to CAMHS and psychological therapies. Those actions include the implementation of our CAMH service specification and provision of payload improvement support for the seven national health service boards with the longest wait times. That will help to clearly identify the challenges in those service areas and solutions to address unacceptable long waits. We are working with mental health leads on those boards to support the development and implementation of local recovery plans by the end of March 2021 and to target investment to improve access to CAMHS.

Since the independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside report was published last year, I have been engaging closely with Tayside’s executive leadership to help prioritise improving mental health throughout the pandemic. That is demonstrated by the fact that today NHS Tayside launched its mental health strategy, living life well. I am pleased to see that the strategy has been endorsed by those with lived experience, service managers and others in the community. The implementation of the strategy is an important step in Tayside’s improvement journey for mental health support and services.

The next significant step will be the outcome of Dr David Strang’s review of Tayside’s progress, which is expected to be done in April. I wrote to the Health and Sport Committee on 19 October 2020 to explain that we had agreed to delay Dr Strang’s review to no later than April 2021. That was to enable Dr Strang to meaningfully engage with—[



The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Come to a close, please.

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

—for whom using a digital medium is not always suitable. At that time, I assured the committee—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Come to a close, minister.

Thank you. At this rate, I will not be able to get through all the questions, even if there are no supplementaries. We should have shorter answers, please.