New Mental Health Strategy: our response

30th March 2017

The Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt, launched the Scottish Government’s new 10-year Mental Health Strategy today (Thursday 30th March).

SAMH welcomes action on children and young people’s mental health but believes overall the strategy does not go far enough. The charity has serious concerns that the already delayed strategy fails to provide for the need of people with mental health problems in modern-day Scotland - especially children and young people.

Billy Watson, chief executive of SAMH said: “We welcome the launch of this new 10-year strategy - it is long overdue. We are pleased to see that some of our recommendations have been accepted and areas of focus in the plan are to welcomed, however we are disappointed it lacks the ambition and investment that Scotland deserves, especially for children and young people.” 

In 2016 SAMH launched its Ask Once Get Help Fast manifesto, an approach that has investment and ambition over a ten year period, to transform the mental health of people living in Scotland.  

More than ever before people are seeking help for their mental health, yet six years after they were set, waiting time targets have still not been met. With NHS mental health spend down from 8.6% to 8% of the total NHS budget, major cuts in mental health spending being announced by IJB’s and a previously announced additional £150million from Scottish Government largely committed, we don’t believe that the situation will improve sufficiently.

SAMH calls on the Scottish Government to reach out and work more closely with partners, including the Third Sector, particularly in the areas of support and service provision for children and young people.  We know that half of adults who are mentally ill experienced the onset of their mental health by the age of 15, so investment in solutions for children and young people now and broader mental health education is crucial. 

Watson continues: “Over 17,000 children and young people were turned away from CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) in the last three years and we don’t know why, what happened to them and what other supports they clearly need. We welcome the strategy’s commitment to audit these rejected referrals. This review must start quickly, report within 18 months and lead to real action. 

“SAMH believes that an investment in non-CAMHS services that focuses on early intervention is required so young people can access appropriate help quickly. CAMHS does the job of supporting young people with a mental health diagnosis but GPs, teachers and parents need more options when presented with a young person who is mentally unwell.

“We need to make mental health a priority across all government departments if Scotland is to be bold and innovative once again.”

Watson concludes: “SAMH will be doing a more thorough examination of the detail in this strategy, and we will be keeping a close eye on the delivery of Scotland’s Mental Health Strategy and the promises made today.”