Paws for thought on mental health

It is not every day on the election trail that you find yourself taking four dogs for a walk. But these were no ordinary dogs - they were Therapets from the Canine Concern Scotland charity.

Willie walking the therapets

These dogs work with people struggling with mental health problems and a range of other conditions. The charity does some fantastic work. If you look at the cost of mental ill health, you can see why the support they provide is so important.


463,000 days. That is the number of working days lost to depression last year, according to independent analysis from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre. One mental health condition alone costs employers in Scotland an estimated £54 million a year in lost staff days.

We need a step change in the way we support mental health services in Scotland.

We have known for years that despite the fantastic work of mental health professionals, mental health services have not got the support they need. The share of the NHS budget spent on mental health has fallen every year since 2009.

Meanwhile, we have seen cases where children and young people who need mental health treatment have been forced to wait more than a year to see a specialist.

children and young people who need mental health treatment have been forced to wait more than a year

Doctors, nurses, therapists and others working in mental health in Scotland are doing fantastic work. But waiting time targets for treatment continue to be missed and the SNP have cut the share of spending on mental health.

Liberal Democrats have already set out plans to double investment in services for children and young people. We would also build two new specialist centres for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Aberdeen and Inverness.

Today I set out plans that will start to change the way we treat mental ill health in Scotland across our primary care services.

Under our proposals, every GP practice will be able to have an additional qualified mental health professional to support and treat patients.

We will train and recruit 960 additional professionals, who will work alongside GPs and their practice staff to treat patients and help patients access the specialist services they may need.

We will train and recruit 960 additional professionals to work alongside GPs

Talking therapies have proved to be effective treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions.

This will provide an additional one million treatment sessions per year, helping people get back to work and achieve their potential, as well as increasing productivity in the economy.

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