Government pledge on mental health being delivered too slowly, warns Johnstone

A government pledge to put in place an extra 800 mental health workers is being delivered too slowly, warned Scottish Greens health spokesperson Alison Johnstone in today’s (13 June) Holyrood debate on mental health.

Alison said:

“The Government has committed to putting 800 additional mental health workers in place, but progress is slow, and we still lack clarity on how many staff will be based in primary care settings, and what degree of speciality they will have. As well as prioritising early intervention, we need urgent improvement to support for people experiencing a mental health crisis.  At the moment that support – particularly out-of-hours – is just not good enough.

“SAMH point out that there is now a crisis care concordat in England, which aims to make sure there is 24/7 provision of crisis support.  We need to know that specialist mental health staff are liaising effectively with A&E services and emergency services. I know there is good practice in many areas of Scotland, but there are real concerns, as the Samaritans have said, that there is no line of sight from the Minister to what is happening locally. “

Alison also highlighted the need to improve funding to GP practices in deprived areas, as they see many more patients with mental health problems:

“There is a mental health crisis in Scotland, and if we want to tackle it in the long-term, we must make sure people have the social and financial security they need. The erosion of social security support has placed increasing pressures on people’s health, and on GP practices.

“Access to primary care in Scotland remains inequitable, and as I have stressed many times during debates on health, GPs practices in the most deprived areas of Scotland typically have longer patient lists, and see many more patients with mental health problems.  Supporting GPs in areas of high deprivation is absolutely fundamental to supporting mental health and tackling health inequalities. “