MORE than 600 children and young people in Scotland have been waiting more than a year for specialist help with mental health problems.

New data shows the waiting times target for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) has been met for fewer than two-thirds of young patients seeking help.

NHS figures revealed at the end of September 2019 there were 10,034 youngsters waiting to be seen – including 602 who had been waiting for 53 weeks or longer. This compares to the 221 children and young people who had been waiting for a year or more at the end of September 2018.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) said the figures showed Scotland was “continuing to fail thousands of children and young people with mental health problems, with more clearly needing to be done to address this epidemic”.

READ MORE: Mental health needs ‘massive change’ for Scotland's youngsters

The SCSC spokesman said: “There must be a radical transformation of our mental health services, with a focus on preventing such problems arising in the first place and intervening early, especially when we know that half of all mental health problems begin before the age of 14.”

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader, added: “The Scottish Government needs to review this situation urgently and ensure services are getting the support they need to meet demand, or Scotland’s young people will continue to suffer.”

While the Government has set the target of having 90% of youngsters who need CAMHS help receive this within 18 weeks, over the period July to September 2019 this was met for just 64.5% of patients – down from 69.7% in the previous quarter.

The latest data showed just two mainland health boards – NHS Borders and NHS Dumfries and Galloway – met the 90% target

Meanwhile, in the NHS Grampian area, only 50.8% of youngsters who started treatment in July to September were seen within 18 weeks.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “We want to make sure anyone who has identified as needing support can get services that are appropriate to their needs.

“To shorten waits for treatment, we are making significant changes to meet increasing demand and to ensure everyone gets the right treatment, at the right time and in the right place.”