The Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference has today backed a package of proposals to "fix overwhelmed mental health services for good".
As part of the party's call to put recovery first, the seven-point plan will:
- Increase the number of training places for psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, especially those specialising in CAMHS;
- Add counsellors to NHS workforce planning so their skills can help more people;
- Expand the trained counselling workforce through new bursaries and training routes to widen access;
- Fully resource mental health services through a target for them to receive 15% of future health spend increases;
- Make every health service contact count through enhanced signposting to existing counsellors and third sector resources;
- Provide new community services that young people can access with their families;
- Restart and ramp up mental health first aid training with a new aspiration that every workplace should benefit.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
“It’s time for Scotland to put the recovery first and fix our overwhelmed mental health services for good.
"That means increasing the number of training places for psychiatrists and psychologists. We need to dramatically expand the number of counsellors and get the health service to help them tackle mental health problems in communities, schools and workplaces.
"The Scottish Government’s mental health strategy was years late and short on ambition. Even before the pandemic struck we had a record number of children waiting over a year for help.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently championed our national mental health. Already this year our research has shown the toll it is taking. We've led Parliament in declaring a crisis and secured £120 million more for services next year. But it needs the full weight of our proposals and a government that will put recovery first to fix this for good."
Scottish Liberal Democrat mental health spokesperson Rebecca Bell said:
“This election is about putting the recovery first and that can only happen if we put both physical health and mental health at the core of the recovery.
“Far too often mental health services are reliant on third sector provision with only a short- term funding commitment from the government. Meanwhile the Scottish Government cancelled training for mental health first-aiders during the pandemic despite similar courses continuing to run elsewhere in the UK. These first-aiders can make all the difference, for example, someone to talk to at work when they start feeling unwell, before problems get worse. At the same time 1 in 8 specialist positions in child and adolescent mental health are unfilled, with young people in long queues waiting for treatment whilst they and their families are desperate for help.
“It’s time for a radical change. Scotland needs this realistic investment in order to achieve the long-term solutions we require to emerge from this crisis. You shouldn’t have to wait years for mental health support, any more than you should for cancer or a broken leg. These proposals from Scottish Liberal Democrats demonstrate our commitment to making Scotland a mental health world leader.”