13 December 2018
After falling for two years, the number of
children and young people reported to the Mental Welfare Commission
as being treated for mental illness in non-specialist wards in
Scotland rose in 2017-18.
A report published today states that 103 admissions were
recorded nationally, involving 90 young people under the age of 18.
This compares with 71 admissions involving 66 young people in the
Almost all of these admissions were to adult wards, with five
admissions to general paediatric wards.
The continued lack of intensive psychiatric care facilities in
Scotland for children and young people is also highlighted in the
Colin McKay, chief executive of the Mental Welfare Commission,
"The rise in these figures after a two year fall is
disappointing. We believe the rise may reflect capacity issues
within the mental health system as a whole. We also note that some
health boards have markedly higher numbers of admissions to adult
wards than others, and would seek clarity on the reasons for
"We are also very concerned about the continued lack of
intensive psychiatric care facilities in Scotland for children and
young people, something we have raised for several years.
"Adult intensive care psychiatric units (IPCUs) can often be
unsuitable environments for adolescents. They are specialised
environments for adults who are very unwell and present with high
risk to themselves or others. They are also used routinely to
provide care for adults who are engaged in the criminal justice
system and court processes due to the security of the
"We continue to discuss the need for an IPCU facility for
children and young people with government, and are asking that it
becomes part of the Mental Health Strategy."
Fourteen of the children and young people admitted to
non-specialist wards were treated in an adult IPCU, including five
who were under the age of 16.
The report gives a breakdown of admission by health board.
Notes to Editors:
Health boards have a legal duty to provide age-appropriate
services and accommodation. There are three specialist units for
inpatient treatment for children and young people - Skye House in
Glasgow which covers the west of Scotland, the Young People's
Unit in Edinburgh which covers the east of the country, and Dudhope
House in Dundee which takes patients from the north of
In some cases admission to a non-specialist ward may be regarded
as the best option for the child or young person, for example,
where the admission is for a short period only, and the alternative
would means being transferred a long distance from home.
The Commission's figures are a record of all admissions reported
to us by health boards. The Commission only includes admissions of
one full day or more, and does not include admissions for medical
treatment of self harm or alcohol/drug misuse.
The full report is