Scotland politics

Extra £10m for mental health early intervention

Couple in GP surgery Image copyright Mind

An extra £10m is being invested to help people with mental health difficulties at an early stage.

The Scottish government said the money would be spent over two years and would support new forms of mental health work in primary care settings.

Some of the work will focus on improving the physical health of people with severe mental illness.

Ministers said the money was part of efforts to improve early intervention and put more focus on prevention.

Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said: "We want to greatly improve early intervention, so that we can give people timely treatment before more serious problems develop.

"To do that there needs to be a strong mental health response in primary care settings, and that's what this £10m programme will help us to do.

"By testing innovative approaches we can see what works and potentially role these out more widely. In particular, we want to look at ways in which improving physical health can improve mental health.

"We also want to look at how targeting resources in deprived or rural communities can begin to break down some of the health inequalities we are still seeing."

'Unacceptable waiting times'

Ms Watt said that for the first time £1bn would be spent on mental health next year, with £5bn spent over the next five years, proving how seriously her government was taking the issue of mental health.

However, Miles Briggs, mental health spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: "While any further investment in mental health is welcome, this won't provide the help that patients urgently need.

"There needs to be a step change in the amount of support we currently offer to those suffering from mental ill health, and this funding doesn't go anywhere near far enough.

"It is clear that more needs to be done to improve capacity and staffing across the health service and address the unacceptable waiting times for treatment."

He added: "That is why we have called for an extra £300m to be spent over the course of this parliament on improving services, and ensuring that no one has to wait too long to see a specialist."

'Vulnerable patients'

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: "All measures to improve mental health services in Scotland are welcome as too many vulnerable patients are left languishing on waiting lists.

"Scottish Labour looks forward to the publication of the mental health strategy, which the SNP has postponed until next year.

"Any additional investment should be underpinned by an ambitious and properly-resourced plan with a serious focus on prevention. Scottish Labour believes investing in school counsellors is key to this and we would urge the SNP to make this happen."

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "What the SNP seem to be failing to understand is that we need a step change in our approach to mental health and not just tinkering at the edges which is what this investment is.

"Mental health care should be treated on the same level as physical care and as such must have a budget many times over than what it has at the moment so that we can transform mental health care across the whole of Scotland."

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