Rennie: Disappointing first year for mental health strategy

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today marked one year since the introduction of the Scottish Government's new mental health strategy, highlighting missed targets, falling mental health performance and rising suicides. He has called for substantive additional actions to end the “scandal of long waits and long journeys.”

The strategy was criticised by charities and campaigners for lacking ambition when it was published on 30th March 2017.

Examples highlighted by Mr Rennie include:

  • Performance against the child mental health waiting time target is now the worst on record, with just 71% of children starting their treatment within 18-weeks, down from 82.5% a year earlier. The target was met for just 39% of children in Grampian.
  • Hundreds of adults and dozens of children are still waiting over a year for treatment.
  • The suicide prevention strategy is more than 450 days late, despite suicides increasing by 8% in 2016;

Mr Rennie said:

“Last year when targets were being missed the mental health minister said that the picture was “encouraging”. I would suggest that progress since is anything but.

"Waits for mental health treatment are getting worse, not better. We are still months away from having a new suicide strategy, even though the last one expired at the end of 2016.

“A year ago campaigners warned that this strategy was not ambitious enough. Even by the modest goals that the Scottish Government set out, it has fallen short.

“The Scottish Government is still treating those with mental health conditions as second class citizens.

“Liberal Democrats have laid out clear plans to end the scandal of long waits and long journeys for treatment: doubling the CAMHS budget, establishing mental health beds north of Dundee and putting mental health practitioners capable of treating people in every GP surgery and A&E in the country. Nothing less is acceptable.”

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