Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, has urged the new First Minister to set out a new agenda on mental health as she sets out her first Programme for Government tomorrow.
At Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn conference in Dunfermline this weekend, Mr Rennie revealed that Scottish Liberal Democrats are to call for a new law which would mandate the Scottish Government and Scotland’s health service to ensure equal treatment of mental and physical ill health.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s statement, Mr Rennie said:
“The new First Minister enters office with big challenges ahead. During the independence referendum, the SNP in government took their eye off the ball.
“As a result, tens of thousands of college places were closed, hospitals faced a beds shortage and targets for cancer treatment were missed. The Cinderella service of mental health care was cast further back into the shadows.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats will not stand idly by whilst Scotland’s young people wait longer and longer for crucial mental health treatment. RCN pointed out only this week that our hospitals have lost 64 specialised mental health nurses.
“There are 883 fewer mental health beds since 2009. Scotland deserves better.
“Although one in four people suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives, one in four people were not comfortable to make friends with someone with depression.
“If we are to create opportunity for all, the new First Minister must use her first programme for Government to set out a new agenda on mental health. We need a new law to ensure equality between mental health and physical health in our NHS. People in England already gave that equality so we deserve it in Scotland too.
“The Scottish Government has a duty to change attitudes, to reduce the stigma and to guarantee that people with mental illness are treated equally to those with physical illness.”