Psychological therapies and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Scottish Association for Mental Health

Thursday, June 6, 2019

All of us should feel comfortable talking about mental health in the same way we talk about physical health. But it can be difficult to talk about how we feel at times; especially when we don’t feel okay.  When someone does talk about how they’re feeling and asks for help, they should only have to ask once and then get help fast.

On the 4th of June, the Scottish Government published new statistics on waiting times for psychological therapies and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) covering between January and March this year.

For the first time ever none of the 14 Health Boards met the waiting times target for psychological therapies - seeing 90% of people within 18 weeks - with 1 in 5 people wishing to access therapy having to wait longer than the 18 week target.

On average, children and young people in Scotland had to wait 12 weeks to get any specialist help, with the number of children and young people waiting over a year for support trebling over the past year. In the first three months of this year, over 2000 children and young people had their referral to CAMHS rejected; we don’t know what support - if any - was offered to these young people.

Last year the Scottish Government promised action on mental health, but today’s figures show that people still aren’t seeing impact on the ground. Demand for mental health services is increasing, so it’s crucial that when people ask for help, they receive it quickly. We know that getting the appropriate help quickly can make a big difference to a person’s recovery from mental health problems. Being left without support can leave people feeling alone and without hope.

Asking once and getting help fast should be the standard we expect for mental health care. The Scottish Government committed to adopting this approach in its Mental Health Strategy 2017-27 and Scotland was the first country in the world to introduce a waiting time target for psychological therapy.

However, despite recent steps towards better resourced mental health services, there is still a long way to go to ensure that when someone asks for help, they get it, and fast. With your support, we’ll keep campaigning until this is a reality.

Read our 2017 Ask Once, Get Help Fast manifesto

Find more information, including tips for looking after your own mental health, at

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