Our plan for mental health

The SNP Government has let down a generation of children and young people.

When the Health Secretary launched the NHS Recovery Plan last year, the mental health treatment target was missed for 1 in 5 children. A year later, and mere months before March 2023, when the SNP had promised the eradication of mental health waiting lists, that figure stood at 1 in 3.

Despite this, £38m was cut from the mental health budget in 2022/23. That’s money that could have cut waiting times, trained staff and put more counsellors in schools. But that cut will lead to more delays

You only get one childhood, and waiting month, after month, after month for help can shatter those formative years.

Alex Cole-Hamilton

The shadow of lockdown and soaring cost of living have materially worsened Scotland’s mental health. The impact of lockdown on young people can be seen in polling from December 2022 for Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity which showed that 6 in 10 parents believe their child has experienced mental ill health.

Poor mental health prevents people from getting on in life.

Staff, services and early interventions have never received the resources they need, meaning they are overwhelmed and people routinely can’t access help quickly, easily or close to home.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists found there is only one consultant psychiatrist for every 10,250 people and only one CAMHS consultant psychiatrist for every 16,351 children, and 1 in 4 senior mental health roles are missing a permanent appointee.

There is a sharp crisis in mental health staffing across Scotland. Thousands of children and adults are waiting more than a year for treatment. Staff are under immense pressure and patients are suffering.

Alex Cole-Hamilton

Our plan

We need the Scottish Government to produce a new blueprint to cut mental health waiting times and give all of those waiting new hope.

  1. Return to appointing a dedicated Mental Health Minister.

  2. Increase the number of training places for psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, especially those specialising in CAMHS.

  3. A new target for additional mental health professionals working with GPs, in A&Es, and alongside police and prison staff.

  4. A new target for the rollout of counsellors to ensure access in all schools and at every stage of education.

  5. Add counsellors to NHS workforce planning so their skills can help more people.

  6. Listen to the experience of frontline mental health staff through a staff assembly.

  7. Ramp up training so that every workplace can be offered the benefit of a mental health first aider.

  8. A single point of contact for those on waiting lists so people only need tell their story once.

  9. The creation of new dedicated specialist mental health beds for children and young people north of Dundee, and beds for new mothers north of Livingston, ending the scandals of long journeys for treatment and people being separated from their support networks.

  10. A fresh ambition to reduce waiting times. 18 weeks is too long to wait for mental health treatment to begin and should not be the normal target in the long-term. When that target is finally met, for the first time ever, it should trigger a new ambition to progressively lower the target to 9 weeks.

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