The Scottish Government has been challenged to take urgent action to tackle “intolerable” waiting times for specialist mental health services for children and young people.
It comes as new figures show almost 1,000 youngsters have been waiting more than a year to get help.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon has called on the Scottish Government to “properly fund” the NHS and third-sector organisations providing “lifeline” services.
Public Health Scotland statistics indicate at the end of September 959 youngsters were on the waiting list for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) for more than 52 weeks – up from 599 at the same time in 2019.
The Scottish Government’s target of having 90% of Camhs patients seen in 18 weeks was met for six out of 10 (60.6%) youngsters across Scotland in July to September.
This was down from 61.7% in the previous quarter and 64.5% in July to September 2019.
Only NHS Ayrshire and Arran achieved the target, with 91.9% of patients seen within 18 weeks.
In NHS Forth Valley, only two-fifths (40.1%) were seen within the target time.
At the end of September, there were a total of 9,699 youngsters on the waiting list for CAMHS help.
The report noted “since schools have reopened, the numbers of children and young people being seen has increased to pre-Covid levels”.
The number of patients starting Camhs treatment in July to September rose by 4,032, up 13.6% on the previous quarter.
Ms Lennon said: “These waiting times are intolerable and urgent action is needed to prevent children and young people in Scotland falling deeper into mental health crises.
“Before Covid, youth campaigners in Scotland described the growing mental health crisis as their generation’s epidemic.
“Life in lockdown is affecting the mental health of people of all ages and from all backgrounds.
“Mental health services for children and young people have been neglected by the SNP for too long.”
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Whether it’s a first appointment or a crushing need for help, nobody should be left waiting for expert help.
“But it’s happening routinely.
“Under this SNP Government there were record numbers of children waiting over a year for help before the pandemic even struck. ”
A Scottish Children’s Services Coalition spokesman said with Camhs referrals now “beginning to return to pre-lockdown levels, it is vital that children and families are provided with the support they so desperately need, especially given the impact of the pandemic on mental health”.
He added: “Our mental health services must receive the funding they vitally need or we face a ‘lost generation’ of vulnerable children and young people.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it is “encouraging to see more children and young people starting their mental health treatment sooner”.
“As demand continues to increase we know that some people are still waiting far too long for treatment,” she said.
“We recognise that long waits are unacceptable and remain committed to meet the standard that 90% of patients are seen within 18 weeks.”
She said many health boards have made “significant progress” despite the pandemic.
The spokeswoman added: “We recognise that not all children and young people need specialist services like Camhs, which is why we announced funding of £15 million to be distributed to local authorities to support the mental wellbeing of five to 24-year-olds in their communities.”
She also highlighted the £60 million investment for a counselling service in all secondary schools.