Minister outlines progress in Scotland's mental health

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Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said mental illness was "one of the top public health challenges in Europe" but that significant progress in Scotland was being made.

Mr Matheson was leading the debate on Scotland's Mental Health Strategy on 24 January 2013.

He told MSPs the suicide rate in Scotland had continued to fall, progress was being made against stigma and in addressing the treatment gap.

The minister said there had been "good progress in closing the treatment gap, ensuring that people with mental health problems are more likely to seek help, get a diagnosis and receive evidence-based treatment."

"In particular, we have had real success with depression and alcohol misuse."

"However, the bigger challenge is in the detail under the headline figures. Mental ill health affects our communities unequally. People from our most deprived communities are much more likely to experience mental illness."

Mr Matheson stressed: "One of the key messages I want to emphasise is that the change and improvement was delivered locally, by NHS Boards, local authorities, and the third sector, working with service users and carers."

Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson said there had been good progress in mental health since 1997 including improving mental health services, suicide reduction and readmissions to psychiatric units, but expressed concern about depression in older people.

Dr Simpson pointed out that the World Health Organisation had stated the issue would be the second greatest health burden in developed countries by 2020 and contrasted the stasis in the level of elderly suicides in sharp contrast to the improvement in suicide levels in the young.

Speaking for the Liberal Democrats, Jim Hume expressed concern about the rise in antidepressant prescribing and called for better local access to alternative treatments.

The second part of the debate can be viewed below:

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