Scottish government to introduce mental health funding boost

The Scottish Government has announced a mental health funding boost of £500,000 in a move announced on World Mental Health day

The mental health funding boost will be added to what currently amounts to £1.25 million a year to NHS 24 services, which supports people who need non-emergency care.

The new funding will be channelled into services helping those suffering with problems such as anxiety and low mood.

This will hopefully allow for better access to self-help guides and counselling over the phone.

The number of people requesting help from NHS 24 has nearly doubled over the past decade, rising from 38,000 to 87,000 from 2006 to 2016.

Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt was optimistic about the increased funding, saying: 

“This is a key part of our work to intervene early, which we know can help prevent problems from worsening.

“On World Mental Health Day, it has been good to meet some of the NHS24 staff who deliver this care on a daily basis – and learn, first-hand, how effective these early interventions can be in supporting people to deal with a wide range of mental health conditions.”

Looking to the future

The new funding is sure to be welcome news, but waiting lists are growing and many have voiced concern over the inadequacy of current services.

Scottish Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon accused mental health services of failing to meet demand.

She said that one in five young people face 18 week waits for services and 17,000 were turned away in the last 3 years, which she called ‘unforgivable’.

She urged the Mental Health minister to make a statement and begin to ‘put things right’.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats urged the government to replace the suicide prevention programme which expired 9 months ago, highlighting an 8% rise in suicides last year.

Mental health is often considered to be one of the most underfunded areas of the NHS.

In April this year services across 5 regions were cut by £5.4 million, despite calls from NHS England for funding to be increased by £1 billion.

Theresa May has promised to tackle the ‘stigma’ surrounding mental illness, but charities say that many people are still being failed.

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