The number of Tayside youngsters waiting to be seen by mental health services is on the rise, according to a new report.

Bosses at NHS Tayside’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) say since September there have been “small but significant” increases.

Under national targets, 90% of those aged 18 and under should be treated within 18 weeks of being referred, which the health board has consistently met over the past year following vast improvement.

However, the latest NHS Tayside Performance Report states this progress is at risk and the recent rise in demand will likely continue with the easing of lockdown and schools reopening.

Dr Helen Smith, chair of the children and adolescent faulty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said the pandemic has only added to an existing problem.

He said: “These statistics from NHS Tayside are alarming and sadly reflect the picture across Scotland.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in the number of referrals, but the truth is mental health services for children and young people were already under-resourced, understaffed and short-changed before the Covid-19 crisis hit.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has admitted her government “took its eye off the ball” on Scotland’s drug death shame.

Speaking during the STV debate on Tuesday night, the SNP leader was questioned on the response to the escalating crisis, which is claiming more than 1,000 lives per year.

Latest figures show Scotland has the highest rate of drugs deaths in Europe, with Dundee having the highest rate in the country.

When asked by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross about the country’s damning statistics, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think we took our eye off the ball.

“I said as much to the Scottish Parliament.

“I set out what we would do to try and turn it around. I set out at the start of this year a £250 million investment programme to build-up rehabilitation services including the residential rehabilitation to make sure we give more support to community services to make sure we provide faster access to treatment and we have a task force working on all of that.”

She added: “I take the view when politicians get things wrong, and we all get things wrong, it is really important to face up that, it is important to recognise that and it is important to set out what we will do to fix that.

“That’s what I have done on drugs deaths. I’ve appointed a minister to lead forward that work and we are determined to turn that around.”

Angela Constance was appointed the drugs death ministerial role, which had previously been the responsibility of Dundee West SNP candidate Joe FitzPatrick

NICOLA Sturgeon was criticised after it emerged tomorrow’s travel-ban easing would not apply to jogging groups and running clubs.

People will be able to travel around Scotland for the first time in months for outdoor socialising, recreation, or “informal” exercise.

But athletics bosses hit out at the Scottish Government for not extending the relaxation to runners taking part in club training sessions or the 288 jogscotland groups, which are often attended by people trying to improve health and fitness.

Governing body scottish athletics said it was “extremely disappointed” and chairman Ian Beattie, a former vice chair of mental health charity SAMH, said it made “no sense”.

Mr Beattie Tweeted: “People allowed to travel all over Scotland to meet friends or family, but can’t travel outside their local authority area to take part in organised training?

“Makes no sense, particularly when mental health benefits of group training are considered.”

Mark Munro, development director at UK Athletics and sportscotland board member, branded it a “shocking decision”.

And in a tweet tagging Nicola Sturgeon he said: “Up to 1 million members in organised sports clubs in Scotland – not one of the smartest political decisions given the timing.“

The restrictions on leaving council areas have been in place for swathes of Scotland since November.

Organised sports groups have been allowed, but with strict limits on numbers and only for people within the same council area.

Glasgow Conservative councillors are calling on the SNP administration to provide additional cash grants to drivers in the taxi and private hire trade.

The call comes after other local authorities including Aberdeen City Council announced funding worth £860,000 overall to support taxi drivers, with an additional £1,000 of automatic top up grant funding.

Dundee City Council and Angus Council have also expanded support provided by the Scottish Government’s Private Hire Support Fund.

That fund closed on March 25, despite only granting funding to less than two-thirds of eligible drivers and spending 57 per cent of its budget.

Glasgow Conservative councillor Thomas Kerr commented: “I continue to be inundated with correspondence from taxi drivers in Glasgow who are in a state of desperation. Their income has been completely decimated over the last year.

“If other local authorities elsewhere in Scotland can give extra funding to our taxi drivers, then that should be the case in Glasgow. I find it appalling that there has been radio silence from the SNP Leader of the Council on this matter and officials are saying they can’t do anything.

ALL political parties that remain in power for too long suffer the same inevitable fate. They run out of ideas. They become tired and drained of energy, floundering around in a hotbed of incompetence, sleaze and scandal, trying to cling on to power by passing bad legislation. Convinced after years in office of their sole right to rule, they display arrogance and contempt for the parliamentary process. Is all of this familiar? You need look no further than the SNP government at Holyrood. Their 14 years in power descended into a chaotic storm of vicious infighting within their own ranks. Scotland’s economy now faces post-pandemic meltdown and yet the SNP government’s focus is on holding another independence referendum, while the First Minister and her immediate predecessor continue to tear lumps out of each other.

It is not only the people of Scotland who should witness this spectacle with fear and trepidation. Joe Biden must be pacing the Oval Office in alarm. If the SNP gets its way and succeeds in breaking up the United Kingdom, it would be a geopolitical catastrophe, not only for Scotland and the UK, but also for the United States. The SNP would destroy, at a stroke, the UK’s diplomatic and military capability in the international arena, depriving the US of one of its most important and long-standing allies.

Covid-19 has exposed an adult numeracy “crisis”, with tens of thousands of unemployed Scots facing bleak prospects because they find it difficult to complete basic tasks such as understanding pay slips and working out discounts.

The warning comes in new research that is calling for more to be done to help those with the lowest confidence and skills take the first step and access learning opportunities.

The UK vaccine rollout has been in the world’s top five. And for all its recent troubles, AstraZeneca has shown in real-world tests to be every bit as effective as suggested in trials.

‘Scotland has fallen victim to the nationalist playbook, divide and conquer. Our traditional left-right politics of arguing how best to improve opportunity and make good the lives of those who struggle has been replaced by a tawdry battle of Yes and No.’

Eyes on the prize. Sadly such is the state of our politics at present that the prize is not addressing our shattered economy or putting our education system back on its feet. It is simply preventing an outright nationalist Government in the next Scottish Parliament. Scotland has fallen victim to the nationalist playbook, divide and conquer. Our traditional left-right politics of arguing how best to improve opportunity and make good the lives of those who struggle has been replaced by a tawdry battle of Yes and No.

The Scotland we are fighting over was ironically created by the Union, pulled together from the clans that had fought each other at the Battle of Shirts and later at Culloden along with competing lowland interests.

Our Scotland which thrived under the Union and punched way above our weight in the global successes and politics of the centuries.

We speak of the Union dividend as not one simply of money but of culture, of family, of shared interest.

The nationalists recognise none of this, they snarl with anger and contempt at the idea of pooled resource. They send angry missives about stolen oil as they drive down the roads and cross the bridges that it built.

They pronounce themselves kinder, more respectful and more civic as they renounce Scots Tories as scum, brand Labour as Red Tories and demand the English leave Scotland – and nowhere are those voices of bitter contempt louder than in the First Minister’s city of Glasgow, where the SNP has delivered austerity and deprivation.

It is their model for a future Scotland.

Eyes on the prize, for the nationalists the prize is the destruction of the Union and thus far they have played that game well. They have changed the devolution settlement from a Scottish Parliament running the country’s once proud public services into an outpost of opposition to the rest of Britain, neglecting our education and welfare while taking ownership of our flag and turning us against ourselves.

They have rewritten history to pit England against Scotland and used Holyrood to deepen division with false claims of assaults on our rights and freedoms by the United Kingdom.

So sophisticated has their campaign of destruction been that truth and lies are now interwoven not only in politics but in our Civil Service and Judiciary.

Such is their success that they hold 59 out of 73 constituency seats in a total of 129 and have used this power base to manipulate their minority support into a sense of overwhelming control.

Eyes on the prize, for unionists there is a sense of growing frustration and anger. Politics is a numbers game and our side has fallen victim to the tactics of division.

We are the majority acting like a minority because we are still divided by our traditional left-right politics. Labour would rather vote with the SNP then support the Conservatives.

Whilst Anas Sarwar talks of healing, he rejects any meaningful options to work with the other parties.

Douglas Ross offers the hand of friendship with the confidence of knowing it will be rejected.

Neither man wants to face asking their candidates to stand aside, and no candidate is willingly offering.

Meanwhile, Willie Rennie urges his supporters to stick with them knowing they will not come anywhere near winning most of the seats but instead ensuring a unionist party doesn’t.

They all urge ‘use both votes for us’ whilst the nationalists titter with glee at the easy pickings. Alex Salmond has joined the fray. But this is merely a distraction because whilst everyone haggles over the list and argues about the vote split the prize is being forgotten.

Eyes on the prize, 73 first past the post constituency seats, 59 of which currently give the nationalists their power base; it’s the reason they control the parliament even as a minority Government. If the unionist parties place all their hopes on mere survival through the 56 list seats, they are playing to lose.

To beat nationalism the major pro-union parties need to take the constituency seats and their focus and worry about the list is simply a taste of their strategic defeat.

It will take more than this election to achieve but they should be making that start now. None of them alone can take on the rise of nationalism, they need each other. Instead egos and self interest have become the order of the day.

So the voters must decide. If their eyes are on the prize, then unionists will look at which unionist party can win their local constituency and vote for them without reservation. You can then vote for whom ever you want on the list vote and maybe, just maybe Holyrood will become what was intended, a coalition of parties whose eyes are on the prize. The prize of a Scotland with local decision making in the interests of the people, with the benefit of the union dividend.

The poll, undertaken by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman, suggests the Scottish public is most likely to back an SNP majority or an SNP/Green coalition as the “best mandate” for a second independence referendum.

It also showed more than two thirds of voters who said they will vote for the SNP on the regional list viewed themselves as “unlikely” to back Alex Salmond’s new party.

As part of the survey respondents were asked to pick their three “most important issues facing Scotland”, including options such as immigration, Brexit and housing.

Of the options, the economy was picked by half of Scots as one of the most important issues, health by 45 per cent of Scots, and employment and welfare by 35 per cent of Scots.

Education (31 per cent), Brexit (25 per cent) and independence (19 per cent) were the next choices, with housing (16 per cent) and the environment (17 per cent) next on the list.

It is the first time fewer than one in five have viewed independence as one of the top issues facing Scotland, and is down four points from a high of 23 per cent during this series of polls.

The poll showed support for the union and independence neck and neck with Yes on 50 per cent and No on 50 per cent after don’t knows are excluded.

However, the poll showed the number of Scots who want to see a referendum within the next two years is at 38 per cent with 53 per cent believing it should take place within the next five years or sooner.

More than one in five (22 per cent) of Scots never want another independence referendum, with one in nine saying it should take place in more than ten years.

THE 2010 General Election was held in the aftermath of the financial crash, and after 13 years of Labour government. PM Gordon Brown sought to counter the sense it was time for a change by arguing it was “no time for a novice”. His appeal failed.

After 14 years in power, as the country tackles another emergency, Nicola Sturgeon is making much the same election pitch. Scotland, she says, needs “experienced leadership” at this time of crisis. Where Brown’s message failed, Sturgeon’s appears to have more traction. So it’s pertinent to ask if Scottish voters are right to entrust Scotland’s recovery to her leadership.

© Scotland Matters