Young people failed by gap in mental health support services

Many young people suffering from mental health issues are not receiving the support they need, says Penumbra.
Many young people suffering from mental health issues are not receiving the support they need, says Penumbra.

A leading mental health charity has reacted to “worrying” findings in a report showing an increase in the use of compulsory treatment.

Penumbra – which provides a range of community-based support services to around 1800 people each week – says the report by the Mental Welfare Commission highlights the stark need for better support services, particularly for young people.

The Mental Welfare Commission’s report has revealed that 6038 new episodes of compulsory treatment using the Mental Health Act in Scotland last year – the highest figure since the Act came into force in 2003.

The new data also shows rising figures for young people aged under 25 being given compulsory treatment.

The female age group with the highest rate of emergency detention certificates per 100,000 population was young women aged 18 to 24, totalling 185 certificates in the year.

This compares with 105 for the same age group in 2009/10.

Young men aged 16-17 have seen the greatest increase in rates of emergency detention per 100,000 population in the past year, and both young men and women aged 16-17 have shown the greatest increase in the rate of emergency detention across the 10-year period observed.

There has also been a rise in the number of short term detention certificates used in relation to young people.

In women under the age of 25, there has been a 122.5 per cent increase in the use of short term detention since 2009/10, rising from 142 to in 2009/10 to 316 in 2018/19.

Nigel Henderson, chief executive of Penumbra, said: “Whilst compulsory treatment may not always be avoidable, it should not be inevitable.

“However, these figures show a worrying rise in the use of compulsory treatment.

“For young people in particular, the figures are a stark reminder that there is a gap in mental health support services for this age group. People need the right support at the right time.”

Mr Henderson continued: “The report also highlights concerning issues around compliance.

“It should not be the case that large numbers of compulsory treatment orders are being applied without the consent of a specialist social worker or Mental Health Officer.

“However, in one local authority area only 33 per cent compliance was met.

“It will be important for the forthcoming review of the Mental Health Act to consider these findings carefully, but I would also urge councils and health boards to look at how they’re using compulsory treatment.”