SNP ministers have been accused of having “abandoned” children and young people after new statistics revealed a rise in the number of rejected mental health referrals.

New analysis by Scottish Labour has found that in 2022, almost 9,000 children and young people had their referral to CAMHS rejected – equating to almost 25 young people every day.

The new figures show a sharp rise compared to pre-pandemic levels, with the number of rejected referrals now more than 18 per cent higher than in 2019.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has issued a warning over the trend ahead of his party holding a debate on mental health at Holyrood.

In 2019, 7,565 CAMHS referrals were rejected, but this has risen by 18.3% to 7,565 by 2022.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon accused of 'gaming the system' on CAMHS waiting times

The party’s motion highlights the fact almost 30,000 children, young people and adults are currently waiting for mental health treatment and sets out a number of key policies to improve services.

Labour’s asks include the creation of a new referral system to ensure no young person is rejected for treatment, the provision of a dedicated mental health worker in every GP practice and a mental health A&E department in every health board so that patients can be fast-tracked, and an increase in mental health spending to at least 11 per cent of the NHS budget.

Mr Sarwar said “Children and young people in Scotland have been abandoned by the SNP at every turn, from their dire record on education to their failure to support CAMHS.

Read more: Scotland's mental health services 'in crisis' as waiting times soar

“Mental health services are at breaking point despite the tireless work of NHS staff, and thousands of children and young people are at risk of falling through the cracks.”

He added: “Rejected referrals soared during Humza Yousaf’s time as Health Secretary – now he needs to fix it as First Minister.

“The SNP must back Labour’s motion and deliver the action we desperately need to prevent a full-blown mental health crisis unfolding in Scotland.”

Speaking during the debate, Scottish Labour deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, said: "The need for action to protect the mental health of the people of Scotland is self-evident but sadly this Government has failed to do so.

"Today, some 30,000 children, young people and adults are languishing on mental health waiting lists in Scotland - and this is nothing short of shocking.

"While it has been exacerbated by the pandemic, this crisis did not develop overnight."

Ms Baillie pointed to the national standard introduced in 2014 that 90% of referrals for CAMHS should begin treatment within 18 weeks.

She said: "That target has not been met once.

"Around a third of young people referred to CAMHS services wait over 18 weeks for treatment."

Ms Baillie added that mental health calls to NHS24 "have risen seven-fold since 2019".

She added: "Horrifyingly, 7,576 Scots are predicted to have died by suicide in the last decade."

Ms Baillie said the Scottish Government should "urgently consider increasing mental health funding to at least 11% of the NHS budget", which would bring it in line with spending in Wales and England.

She called for "a new referral system and investment in frontline services to support NHS staff".

Ms Baillie added: "To do nothing to tackle this crisis would be nothing short of a dereliction of duty and an abandonment of the people of Scotland."

A counter motion, put forward by Mental Health Minister Maree Todd, acknowledged that "many people are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing".

But it pointed to "the cumulative impact that the Covid-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, Brexit and the cost of living crisis have had on the mental wellbeing of children, young people and adults across the country".

Ms Todd admitted that Ms Baillie had highlighted "some legitimate concerns".

She added: "I absolutely acknowledge that some children in particular have been waiting for too long in CAMHS.

"But I am absolutely certain that what we are seeing is an improving tragectory."

Ms Todd insisted that the Scottish Government's core mental health budget "has more than doubled since 2021.

She said: "In the last quarter alone, the number of children waiting over 52 weeks for CAMHS decreased by 42% and the number waiting over 18 weeks decreased by 32%.

"This unseen work has set the conditions for the most sustained positive changes in CAMHS waiting lists in over half a decade.

"The number of children starting treatment in CAMHS in the most recent quarter is comfortably the highest figure on record."