Letters: Children with Learning Disabilities Deserve Better Specialized Services

In recent years, much attention has been paid to additional funding for child and adolescent mental health services, or CAMHS.

We know that the pressures of life in 2022 have heightened anxieties among our young people, and greater public awareness of mental health has led to ever greater demand for services.

However, one group of children have not benefited from recent investments in CAMHS. Specialized services for children with learning disabilities continue to fall behind, despite these children having more serious and intractable health problems.

Children with learning disabilities are more likely to have conditions like autism and ADHD for which there are long waiting lists for diagnosis.

The prevalence of children and young people with learning disabilities is 1%-3%, but they have a disproportionate burden of mental health problems and account for 14% of all UK children with a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.

The Scottish Government recognized CAMHS’ lack of provision for learning disabilities (LD) as early as the mid-2000s, acknowledging a “widespread poverty and inequity in the provision of mental health services”.

The Scottish Mental Health Strategy, 2017-2027 noted that the highest rate of poor mental health in infants, children and young people occurs in people with intellectual disabilities and people with autism.

The Strategy recognizes that “if appropriate treatment and services are not available, health inequities will worsen”.

The data shows that the gap is widening. Despite making up 14% of children requiring CAMHS, the supply of work for children and young people with learning disabilities in Scotland has increased from 4.7% between March and September 2017 to 3 .6% in the most recent figures, from September 2020.

According to the Scottish Government’s own estimates, there are between 3,091 and 9,272 children and young people requiring LD/CAMHS services due to persistent poor mental health.

The good news is that we have made progress in understanding anxiety in children with learning disabilities. This led to the development of effective behavioral strategies.

There is also a simple and cost-effective way to expand CAMHS services for learning disabilities: the Scottish Government can fund a Managed Clinical Network (MCN) so that professionals can share their specialist knowledge between health boards in Scotland.

Yet, I was informed last week that an application from MCN had been delayed.

There is now a trend to establish a broader strategic network that covers mental health as a whole, which would then include a LD CAMHS element.

For those of us who campaigned for LD CAMHS services, this is obviously another setback.

I call on the Scottish Government to approve the application for a CAMHS Learning Disabilities Managed Clinical Network.

Let’s be proud of our services for children with learning disabilities and autism in Scotland and the fantastic professionals dedicated to their care.

Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Advocacy, Edinburgh.

DEVELOPMENT OF LOCH LOMOND

The former Woodbank/Hamilton House hotel in Balloch holds many happy memories rekindled by Kevin McKenna’s analysis of Flamingo Land’s proposals for the derelict site and surrounding area (“Why locals fear a gentrified township will ruin the Loch Lomond forever”, September 10).

I remember modest development squabbles between local tourism operators and municipal planners, but have not forgotten their shared concerns about a possible environmental threat to the loch itself. Maybe a good time to reassure yourself?

They were aware of the restrictions imposed by the buried INEOS Finnart-Grangemouth oil refinery pipeline in and around the Lomond Shores area, but were particularly concerned about its more vulnerable route through the bed of the adjacent River Leven.

Recent plans for Drumkinnon Woods were only overhauled when the pipeline problems were belatedly discovered. On land, it is buried underground and is further shielded from interference in the middle of a 100 meter wide undisturbed corridor.

Hope someone remembered the existence of the 1950s submerged section near the mouth of the loch. It is said to have received more than the occasional dunt from a deep keel when the river level was low.

Pleasure boats are getting bigger, drought shoals more frequent and the river can only get busier.

Gerry Burke, Strachur.

MAINLY ENGLISH KINGS? YES

TIM Cox, writing from Switzerland (letters of September 12), implies that I do not know the date of the union of the crowns.

I have not burdened the readers of the Herald (letters of September 11) with a full account of the turbulent years between 1603 and 1707, but I can assure Mr. Cox that I am well aware that Charles I and II, descendants of Robert II of Scotland, were nominally Kings of Scotland at this time.

The first Charles spent his youth exiled in Europe and was later imprisoned on the Isle of Wight before his subsequent beheading. I am not aware that he ever set foot in Scotland.

His son Charles II, the “Merry Monarch”, reigned briefly before the abolition of the monarchy and again after the expiration of the Cromwellian republic.

He divided his attention between the English Civil War, the procreation of his many illegitimate descendants, and trade disputes with European neighbors.

His visits to Scotland were extremely rare, and Scotland, without any political union with England, had ceased to function as an independent state by this time. This is why I consider both to be primarily English kings despite their Scottish ancestry and have used the word “primarily” wisely in my letter.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

A VERY TOUCHING FAITH IN SANTA

I find it hard to believe that little darlings as young as six can be skeptical of what teachers and parents tell them and even sometimes cynical (“Skepticism Begins at Six,” September 12).

My three descendants, two of whom retired this year, assure me that they still believe in Santa Claus. Clearly, this takes misinformation and fake news too far.

R.Russell Smith, Largs.