Mental illness is one of the most important public health issues in Scotland today, with around one in three people affected by mental health issues in a given year. That’s why, in government, the SNP has made improving mental health services a priority.
We’ve made big strides. Funding is up 40 per cent since 2006, the number of child psychology posts has doubled, and we’ve recently announced £50 million to improve waiting times for treatment.
But, demand is also increasing and we must take action over the next parliament to improve mental health care in our communities, to support people living with mental health challenges.
Over the next five years we will invest at least £150 million to improve mental health services in Scotland. We also will work with mental health charities, stakeholders and service users to put in place a ten-year plan to transform mental health care in Scotland, including for children and young people. That means looking at innovative ways of delivering better mental health services for children and young people, and bringing together healthcare and education to ensure faster treatment without stigma.
No one should be put at risk by a failure to get the help they need when they need it. That’s why we will deliver the “ask once, get help fast” approach across the country by the end of the next Parliament.
Today too many people with mental health conditions experience difficulty when seeking support from the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions. With new social security powers set to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, we will pursue a different approach – and approach that has dignity and respect at its heart. We will ensure mental health conditions and physical health conditions are treated with parity.
Good progress has been made, but there’s much more we want to do, and a re-elected SNP government will transform support available to for people facing mental health challenges.
Shona Robison is Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing & Sport