Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP today challenged the SNP to “put their money where their mouth is” and increase support for mental health services in Scotland.
Mr Hume was speaking after the SNP Westminster health spokeswoman backed a campaign for increased investment in mental health in other parts of the UK. In Scotland, spending on mental health services as a proportion of the overall health budget has fallen since 2009.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb is leading the Equality 4 Mental Health campaign, a cross-party campaign that has been backed by politicians from across the political spectrum, mental health charities and celebrities.
The campaign is calling for a range of actions to boost investment as a share of NHS spending and highlighted problems of children being treated for mental ill health in adult wards and being forced to travel long distances for treatment.
In Scotland, there has been a 40% rise in the number of children treated on non-specialist (largely adult) wards since 2008/09 and some young people have reportedly been forced to wait more than 12 months to receive treatment. There is only one dedicated mental health bed for young people north of Dundee.
Commenting, Jim Hume MSP said:
“Nicola Sturgeon’s health spokesman at Westminster has backed calls for an increase in mental health spending but the proportion of the NHS budget in Scotland spent on mental health services is falling year on year.
“The SNP are saying one thing at Westminster, doing the opposite at Holyrood and hoping that no one joins the dots. With some vulnerable young people having to wait more than a year for treatments, this simply is not good enough.
“The number of children receiving treatment in adult wards continues to climb, and there is only one bed north of Dundee available specifically to support children and young people. The SNP have the power they need to make most of the changes that the Equality 4 Mental Health campaign want to see. They need to put their money where their mouth is on mental health.
“If the UK government increases spending on mental health at the Autumn Statement on Wednesday this needs to feed through to doctors, nurses and patients in Scotland - in full. It is time that SNP Minister started taking mental health seriously.”