Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll & Bute, has called on the SNP Government to increase support for mental health services in Scotland.
Mr Reid spoke out after the SNP Westminster health spokeswoman backed a campaign for increased investment in mental health services in England – while, in Scotland, under an SNP Government, spending on mental health services as a proportion of the overall health budget has fallen since 2009.
Liberal Democrat MP, Norman Lamb, is leading the Equality 4 Mental Health campaign, backed by politicians from across the political spectrum, by mental health charities and by celebrities.
The campaign is calling for a range of actions to boost investment in mental health services as a share of NHS spending. It has documented and highlighted the problems of children being treated for mental ill health in adult wards; and being forced to travel long distances for treatment.
In Scotland, there has been a 40% rise in the number of children treated on non-specialist [largely adult] wards since 2008/09 and some young people have reportedly been forced to wait more than 12 months to receive treatment.
Speaking on this situation, Alan Reid says: ‘The SNPís health spokesman at Westminster has backed calls for an increase in mental health spending but the proportion of the NHS budget in Scotland spent on mental health services is falling year on year.
‘The SNP are saying one thing at Westminster, doing the opposite at Holyrood and hoping that no one joins the dots.
‘With some vulnerable young people having to wait more than a year for treatments, this simply is not good enough.
‘The number of children receiving treatment in adult wards continues to climb. The SNP have the power they need to make most of the changes that the Equality 4 Mental Health campaign want to see. They need to put their money where their mouth is on mental health.
‘It is time that SNP Ministers started taking mental health seriously./
It is arguable that everyone needs to start taking mental health seriously.
Along with the also ill-served addiction recovery needs, mental health is in the zone with which no one really wants to engage.
Yet many children and adults, normally mentally healthy, have periods where their mental health is unstable and their needs are very real.
Mental health is never something that afflicts ‘others’ and can comfortably be neglected by the fortunate.
Facts of Scottish Government performance on mental health
Financial Year Percentage of Scottish NHS expenditure related to mental health
Figures from the Mental Welfare Commission reveal that 207 young people were admitted to non-specialist units – in 2014-15. These units are largely adult wards. This 209 is an increase from 149 such admissions in 2008-09 – a 39% increase over 6 years or an average of 6.5% per annum over that period.