As restrictions ease today and Scotland starts to reopen, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has warned of “a mountain of delays” for mental health treatment and called for action on mental health to be the first priority of the recovery.
Using a campaign visit to a hairdresser to launch his Party’s mental health recovery plan, Mr Rennie pointed to official statistics from Public Health Scotland which show a record 1,892 children and 5,452 adults waiting more than a year for mental health treatment.
Mr Rennie declared his Party will “refresh Scotland’s mental health strategy” on “day one after the election.” It comes after the Scottish Parliament officially recognised there was a mental health crisis in a Holyrood debate brought by the Liberal Democrats.
Due to rising concerns, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) called for dramatically increased investment in mental health. The Scottish Liberal Democrats secured £120m increase in the budget for mental health and now want to go further.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat’s recovery plan for mental health proposes to:
- Offer new parents greater access to mental health services, including ensuring the current post-natal six-week check has support from a GP and Health Visitor with specific training on maternal mental health.
- Work with businesses and organisations towards an ambition of having a mental health first aider in every workplace, capable of providing peer support and identifying signs of ill health among colleagues.
- Double the number of specialist psychiatrists in training for young people by offering £5,000 grants to students undertaking courses, enabling a wider range of people from diverse backgrounds are able to train.
- Increase the number of mental health professionals working at GP practices to help meet demand and improve access and provide more walk-in services at mental health emergency centres.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:
“For too long, vulnerable people have been subjected to harrowing long waits for mental health treatment. It is impossible to imagine just how hard it must be. Despite the warnings, the pandemic has left a mountain of delays.
"As Scotland begins to reopen, we desperately need to put the recovery first and invest in mental health services. Our NHS staff do an incredible job. People deserve a government that gets behind them and puts mental health at the top of the agenda.
"There is no issue as important to Liberal Democrats as this. On day one after the election, we will refresh the mental health strategy in line with our mental health recovery plan and the £120m we have already secured.
“For people in need or for families in the depth of worry about a loved one, mental health must be taken as seriously as physical health in the next Parliament.”