Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP has today accused the SNP Government of consigning mental health services to the back seat, as new figures reveal that almost two million working days have been lost by councils as result of mental ill health since 2011.
Freedom of Information requests from the Scottish Liberal Democrats found that over 400,000 days have been lost at local authorities every year since 2011 because of sick days relating to mental health, including stress and anxiety. One council response noted that stress-related absence accounts for around one in five of days lost and remains the single largest cause of absence.
Mr Hume has previously called on the Scottish Government to increase the amount of money it spends on mental health services and for equality between mental health and physical health to be enshrined in law.
Commenting on the figures Mr Hume said: “Council staff are under growing pressure to deliver public services in tighter and tighter financial circumstances and these figures show just how much of toll that is taking on their mental wellbeing.
“Hundreds of thousands of days are lost every single year by councils as a result of mental ill health. This puts a huge strain on the services councils provide and is costing the taxpayer millions of pounds.
“But most importantly, failing to tackle mental ill health in local authorities and not providing the support that staff need, is having a devastating impact.
“Mental health support in Scotland needs to be transformed. Nurses, counsellors and psychologists working in our NHS are working as hard as they can but they are overstretched. The Scottish Government is not providing them with the financial resources they need to provide effective treatment as quickly and as close to patients’ homes as possible.
“We need more therapies, more training and more mental health professionals otherwise their services could be consigned to the back seat forever.”