Plans unveiled for Scotland's first teenage secure mental health unit


National Secure Forensic Inpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service would enable high-risk young people to be treated closer to home

Plans have been unveiled for Scotland’s first psychiatric unit dedicated to young people.

The board at NHS Ayrshire and Arran has endorsed the business case for the £4.5m unit and is now finalising a bid for funding.

But the project will still have to be agreed by the Scottish Government before work can begin.

Earmarked for land next to Woodland View, a new adult acute mental health facility that opened last year; the National Secure Forensic Inpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service would accommodate patients of both sexes up to the age of 19 with complex psychiatric illnesses deemed too high risk to be treated in the community.

It would have 12 beds and is expected to cost around £3.8m a year to run.

At present, Scotland has no secure inpatient unit for children and teenagers who present a high forensic risk.

Psychiatrists and mental health campaigners have long complained this means seriously-ill adolescents – some as young as 14 – are being locked up in unsuitable adult psychiatric wards, accommodated on paediatric wards where they pose a danger to other vulnerable patients, or sent miles from home to secure hospitals in England.

A spokeswoman for NHS Ayrshire and Arran said: “The challenges and complexities of working with these young people require a level of expertise that is, unfortunately, not widely available in the UK.

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“The aim is to treat these young people within Scotland and return them to their own community services following therapeutic intervention.”