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

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