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Mental health 'needs major help'

Emma Harper MSP

THE Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Mental Health – chaired by emma Harper – has published a report into prevention and early Intervention within mental health services. The key findings from the report, for which evidence was gathered prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, highlight a number of areas in which mental health services are not meeting the ambitions of the Scottish Government's strategy. They say new services for parents, and those within education have been welcomed, but that cuts to exisiting local services mean that preventative approaches cannot be prioritised. A number of groups struggle to access timely support, including those experiencing mental health problems as a result of poverty and intergenerational trauma, as well as people who experience deafness. Whilst staff recruitment and retention is a particular issue within mental health services for children and young people, adult services are falling behind in embedding preventative approaches. This is the first report in the Cross Party Group's inquiry into progress on the four themes of the Scottish Government's mental health strategy. The group, made up of individuals and organisations from across the public, third and private sectors, asks the Scottish Government to respond to the findings, and to commit to the recommendations made. Key recommendations in the report are for the Scottish Government to: Embed mental health education into the curriculum for children and young people Act to make sure people can easily access exercise referral schemes, which make it easier for people with mental health problems to keep physically fit Fund training of more counsellors, to meet demand for mental health counselling Work with NHS Health Scotland to roll out training in mental health across employers Fund the fight against mental health stigma and discrimination Miss Harper, SNP MSP for South Scotland, Convenor of the Cross-Party Group said: “Challenges with mental health have, in some way, affected every life in Scotland. Each of us have seen, and very often have personally experienced, the impact of poor mental health. Over the course of the past year, the Mental Health Cross Party Group has been very active in meeting, in taking evidence and scrutinising Scottish Government policy in relation to mental health and discussing the impact it is having on-the-ground. "The Cross Party Group broadly welcome, and indeed share, the Scottish Government's guiding ambition for mental health; that we must prevent and treat mental health problems with the same commitment, passion and drive as we do physical health problems. The work of the Cross Party Group and this report will allow us to help inform the Scottish Government on steps it can take to best support people's mental health in a safe, effective, person centred way in the future, as we prepare for the mental impact of the coronavirus pandemic.” Stephanie McKnight, who took part in the Inquiry shares her experience of trying to access mental health support: “After years of hesitation and nerves, I opened up to a teacher and family. I was put on the waiting list for a school counsellor and got an appointment with the doctor. However, the doctor seemed quite dismissive and I never once saw the school counsellor over the next 3 years. I was referred to CAMHS but it was rejected because I was on holiday when they sent the letter, so I didn't reply in time. This resulted in hiding my true self from the world for another year. “In March I took part in the CPG's inquiry representing the organisation ‘See Me' with a couple of other volunteers. Mental health is a passion of mine so this was my chance to represent young people within Parliament in order to make sure there is a change and that our voices are heard. By sharing my personal experiences and views and others sharing theirs, I hope that it will be the start of new change for people within Scotland and, as mental health problems are currently a huge public health challenge.”

<< back Published: 26 Jun 2020, 14:51

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