Dumbarton's MSP has called on the Scottish Government to make the mental health of children and young people a national priority as new figures show that a third are waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment.

Jackie Baillie has highlighted the latest figures from the Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland which show that one in four patients in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde waited longer than 18 weeks in September - an increase of more than 10 per cent on the same month last year.

The figures equate to almost 300 patients in September alone who waited for 19 weeks or more to receive treatment for their mental health.

Ms Baillie said: “Looking after the mental health of Scotland’s children and young people should be a national priority.

“We know that early intervention is vital when a young person is struggling with their mental health.

"Our NHS staff do an outstanding job of supporting and treating patients but without proper resource it is impossible for them to do their job properly.

“The Scottish Government must end the mental health waiting time crisis to ensure that children and young people get the support that they desperately need.”

The health board told the Reporter that teams from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) endeavour to support children and young people with severe mental health problems in community settings wherever possible.

A board spokesperson said: "We have increased access to specialist community mental health teams resulting in more young people getting the support they need in a community setting, usually at home.

"This is in addition to the support available from GPs, teachers and social workers and each individual patient receives a tailored treatment plan.

"Community CAMHS teams are complemented by a wide range of intensive community services operating around the clock including out of hours, crisis services and in-patient services."

The board says the increase in children waiting over 18 weeks arose due to a number of factors, including "significant workforce issues and changes implemented to increase the level of accepted referrals, which in turn created increased demand".

The spokesperson added: "A number of approaches have been undertaken to address this, including extending our core hours of business to include early evenings and weekend work and the introduction of a Quality Improvement Programme.

Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey told the Reporter: “Across Scotland, talented and dedicated mental health staff provide high quality care to young people and are seeing more people than ever.

"I want the speed at which young people receive their care to be improved.

"That’s why we are investing an additional £4 million in CAMHS staff, who will be instrumental in supporting new services, reducing pressure on the system and ensuring young people get the right care at the right time in the right place.”