DUDLEY councillors are calling a special meeting to discuss mental health services after learning children can wait up to seven months for specialised help.

Members of the Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee have asked for an  extraordinary forum with their colleagues on the health scrutiny committee after criticising delays in treatment.

Cllr Elaine Taylor said children shouldn’t have to wait so long.

The request for the combined discussion came after councillors heard the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) had received 176 referrals during the last year for youngsters suffering with emotional and behavioural problems.

Officers said 10 percent of children in the borough are diagnosed with mental health needs.

The service is jointly organised and delivered by the council, Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership.

Explaining the service offers four-tier support from minor problems to complex needs, councillors were told the average waiting time was 16 weeks but rose to 28 for specialist support such as family therapy.

The committee was told Dudley’s waiting times had fallen and the borough now had some of the lowest in the country, with other councils taking up to 80 weeks.

Cllr Taylor questioning the service’s performance, said: “Looking at the figures you have given us, it’s not good. Seven months for someone to have to wait before they are actually get referred to psychology service or if they get family therapy

“Seven months, you know that is a long time in a child’s life.”

Cllr Jake Cooper, at 19 years-old the council’s youngest member,  said he was very concerned about the length of time youngsters had to wait and the possible consequences.

“That’s a big red flag for me.  Just coming out of school myself I know a lot of young people who have been waiting on that list for a long time and frankly something serious could happen in those seven months.”

Councillors will now meet with members of the borough’s health scrutiny committee to discuss mental health provision for both adults and children.