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by Tom Freeman
10 May 2019
Denise Coia steps down as chair of mental health taskforce due to ill-health

Dr Dame Denise Coia - Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Denise Coia steps down as chair of mental health taskforce due to ill-health

Dr Dame Denise Coia, chair of the Scottish Government and COSLA’s taskforce on young people’s mental health, has stepped down after an illness.

The former chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland was appointed last year to spearhead the £5m taskforce to improve child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), which had seen many referrals rejected.

In her first recommendations, Coia highlighted gaps between policy ambitions and service delivery on the ground, recommending a stronger focus on prevention and more community-based care.

Announcing her resignation, Coia said: “It is with regret that due to illness I have had to step down from my role as chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce.

“I am extremely grateful to the members of the taskforce for their support and to the many people across Scotland who have given their time so generously to support our work.

“The importance of this agenda cannot be understated and I commend the Scottish Government and COSLA for showing leadership by establishing the Taskforce last year. I have very much enjoyed my role as chair and hope that its work to date has set a strong direction for the future.

“I am confident that the next set of recommendations from the taskforce to Ministers and COSLA will provide a blueprint for delivering a new approach. This will improve support to young people who experience mental illness and emotional distress as well as promoting a culture of mental wellbeing among this and future generations of young people.”

In a joint statement, Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey and COSLA health and social care spokesperson Councillor Stuart Currie said: “We are sorry that due to illness Dr Dame Denise Coia has had to stand down as the chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce and our thoughts are with her at this time. 

“Dr Dame Coia has led the taskforce with professionalism and a highly inclusive approach throughout, keeping the primary focus on improving the mental health of children and young people and the services they access.

“We are very grateful for the work she has led to date and would like to extend our thanks and best wishes.”

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