Improving mental health services

Chair of taskforce publishes first recommendations for improving CAMHS.

The chair of a taskforce reviewing mental healthcare for young people has called for a stronger focus on prevention and more community-based care.

Doing so would free specialist services for the children and adolescents who most need them said Dame Denise Coia, chair of the joint Scottish Government and COSLA Taskforce on Children and Young People’s Mental Health.

Dame Denise has published her first recommendations for the taskforce’s work programme. The Scottish Government and COSLA jointly announced the taskforce following a review of rejected referrals to children’s and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). The taskforce will conduct a whole system review of CAMHS in Scotland and is supported with an initial £5m.

Other recommendations include identifying where immediate changes can be made to address the issues raised in the rejected referrals review, building a diverse workforce, and strengthening information systems to get better data. Dame Denise will also share the chair of each taskforce meeting with a member of the Youth Commission on Mental Health in order to keep young people’s views central to the taskforce’s work.

Dame Denise said:

“Since being appointed I have focused on listening to young people, their families, carers and frontline professionals about their experiences, and I am very grateful for their honesty and openness. I have been frustrated on their behalf and by the lack of good quality data about the services.

“To improve services and give young people the care they need, the focus must be on stronger prevention and early intervention, more generic, community-based care so specialist services are freed up for the people who need them most, and better information to the public about where they can get help and support.”

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said:

“Dedicated mental health professionals provide high quality care to our young people across Scotland every day. But despite this, too many children and adolescents are being let down by the current system. I have been clear that this is unacceptable and that we must look at making the changes necessary to ensure young people get the care they need and deserve. We are supporting this through a range of actions, including announcing this taskforce, and record levels of investment.”

COSLA President Cllr Alison Evison said:

“COSLA elected members will consider these recommendations together with Scottish Government and look forward to further engagement with Dame Denise and the Task Force. Local Authorities and Integration Authorities see mental health as their issue as much as one for NHS services and are keen to work towards joint solutions, in line with Getting It Right For Every Child and ensuring a whole system approach.

“Achieving good outcomes for children and young people’s mental health demands a contribution from a range of partners, including the health service, local government, the third sector and beyond. Improvements for children, young people and their families can only be made through a collaborative approach between the partners involved and with the political backing of both spheres of government.”


Dame Denise Coia's first report and recommendations are available on the Scottish Government website.

The taskforce was created in response to an audit of rejected referrals carried out by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and NHS Information Services Division on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government, working with Young Scot and SAMH, appointed a Youth Commission on Mental Health Services will lead an in-depth, 15-month study into CAMHS and recommend improvements to Ministers. The government is also funding See Me, the national programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination to hold the biggest conversation on mental health Scotland has had with young people.

Back to top