Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee criticises absence of basic data on children and young people’s mental health services


The absence of basic data on mental health care provision means it’s not possible to say what difference public services make to young people’s mental health, according to Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee.

In a report published today, MSPs express their concerns over mental health services for children and young people that Audit Scotland say are “complex and fragmented”.

Over the last five years, mental health referrals for children and young people have increased by 22 per cent; with 33,270 referrals being made in 2017/18.

Public Audit Committee convener Jenny Marra MSP said:

The Committee heard that mental health issues for children and young people in Scotland are increasing.

“It is therefore concerning that Audit Scotland describes a “complex and fragmented” system of mental health services that makes it difficult for young people and their families to get the support that they need.

“It is clear that the performance and provision of mental health services requires urgent and significant improvement.”

On the absence of mental health care data, Ms Marra added:

“It is the role of this Committee to ensure that public funds are being spent wisely.

“The absence of basic data in relation to a whole range of factors in mental health provision for children means that it is not possible to say whether public spending is making a difference to young people’s mental health.”

Ms Marra concluded:

“Our committee recognises that there is much to be done to transform children and young people’s mental health services, to ensure that all those who are at risk get the care and support that they need as quickly as possible. The committee recognises that this transformation will require a commitment across the public sector.

“The committee welcomes the work of the Scottish Government’s task force and looks forward to the implementation of its delivery plan. As noted in our parliamentary report, we intend to follow up the implementation of Audit Scotland’s recommendations to see if the Scottish Government and partners are making the recommended changes.”

Background information

Find the committee’s full report here.



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