IMPROVING the mental health of children and young people in Scotland requires a “transformation change”, a task force has found.

The Scottish Government and the local authority group Cosla jointly established the body in June last year amid concern over waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) and the number of referrals being rejected.

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Now, the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce has made a series of recommendations, including an improvement plan to boost consistency in Camhs performance and acceptance criteria.

The task force report stresses prevention is “central” to improving the mental health of children and young people and calls for fair investment in early intervention as well as specialist and crisis support.

It warns a “sustained period” will be needed to make the changes and recognises boosting early intervention and prevention to cut waiting time and reduce rejected referrals may not help those who are currently waiting.

The body also suggests there could be increased demand on Camhs in the short-term due to “enhanced identification” of young people with mental health difficulties.

Further recommendations include the Scottish Government and Cosla committing to a long-term partnership to “jointly drive the reform of Scotland’s approach to children and young people’s mental health”.

The report states: “The task force believe that transformational change is required to improve children and young people’s mental health and the services that support them, however, it is recognised that a number of immediate actions are both required and possible to effect change in the short-term.”

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The Scottish Government and Cosla said the recommendations will be taken forward by a new programme board reporting to Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey.

Haughey said: “This announcement reflects the next steps in a partnership between the Scottish Government and Cosla aimed at making sure that our children and young people and their families are able to get the right support at the right time from specialist mental health services.

“Between now and the end of 2020, the board will take forward the recommendations of the task force and the Youth Commission on Mental Health.

“They will also oversee reform across relevant areas of education, health, community and children’s services, and wider areas that impact on the mental health and well-being of children.”

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Cosla’s health and social care and children and young people spokesmen said in a joint statement: “The detailed report behind these recommendations is incredibly helpful in setting out a blueprint for improving the mental health of children and young people, and the services they and their families access.”