£120m mental health fund is largest rise in history of devolution, says minister
The Scottish Government’s £120 million fund is the largest investment in mental health in the history of devolution, a minister had said.
MSPs debated mental health and wellbeing on Wednesday afternoon, with minister Kevin Stewart saying record investment on the issue would continue.
Mr Stewart, the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, said about a third of GP presentations had a mental health element.
Last year, the Government announced a £120 million mental health recovery and renewal fund.
Mr Stewart said: “Our ambition is supported by our £120 million mental health recovery and renewal fund, the single largest investment in mental health in the history of devolution.
“The Scottish budget published on December 9 continues record levels of investment, with direct funding for mental health in 2022/23 of over £290 million.”
By the end of this session of the Scottish Parliament he said, direct mental health funding would increase by 25%.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, intervened to say mental health waiting times for young people were getting worse rather than better.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “In fact, one young person had to wait seven years for treatment.
“How does he expect to clear CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) waiting times lists by next year, as is (the) Government ambition, when we’re still going backwards?”
The minister said many staff were tired as a result of the pandemic.
Mr Stewart said: “That’s why we are supporting our staff, and we are continuing to help where we can to ensure that we drive down those waiting times and waiting lists.
“They are unacceptable, and we will do all that we can to ensure that we get those down.”
Scottish Conservative MSP, Craig Hoy, said mental health patients should be given priority for face-to-face appointments in GP clinics where possible.
He said: “Additional funding for mental health is welcome. And we have long advocated 10% of the NHS budget being directed towards mental health services, because these services are in crisis.
“Waiting times are too long, pathways are often too complex, medication rates remain too high and too many people reach crisis point.”
Scottish Labour MSP, Carol Mochan, also raised waiting times targets for CAMHS.
She said: “Almost 2,000 children and young people are waiting on lists.
“They are waiting over a year; I don’t think we would leave people waiting a year if they had serious physical injuries.”
She continued: “At the bottom of so much of this is the continued under-investment, and although the Government’s motion papers over some of the cracks, it is not anywhere near enough to turn the ship around and address the very real issues of staff shortages.”