Many struggling to access mental health support, MSPs warn

Holyrood’s cross-party group on mental health found people are turning to the private sector due to a 'lack of support'.

Many struggling to access mental health support, MSPs warn Getty Images

Adults struggling with their mental health have little choice about treatment options in Scotland, with psychological therapies and counselling “not readily accessible”, according to a new report.

Holyrood’s cross-party group on mental health found people are turning to the private sector because of a “lack of treatment and support”.

This applies to those who are mostly “able to go about their daily lives with a mental health diagnosis”, the report said.

It found funding has helped recruit mental health workers, while both new and expanded services have been running during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although MSPs found “emerging evidence of some positive outcomes” for Scots accessing mental health services, they expressed concern children and young people continue to be left without support and the scale of investment in new services may not meet demand.

People with mental health problems also feel there is a lack of support for them to stay well, according to the report, with most commitments on accessing adult services in the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy focusing on crisis support or initial contact with mental health services.

The CPG has 78 members consisting of individuals with lived experience, organisations working within the mental health sector and MSPs.

Commenting on the report, co-convener Oliver Mundell said: “When it comes to access to treatment, we are right to recognise the progress that has been made but we cannot do so without acknowledging that for many this still proves far more difficult than it should be.

“Demand is often too great, resources too few or patchy and, definitely from what we hear from the group, it is inconsistent across the country.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are pleased the cross-party group has acknowledged the progress that has been made on mental health in recent months. This has been a very difficult period for many, particularly those experiencing mental ill health.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have provided £6m of dedicated funding to provide additional telephone and online support services.

“This includes £2.1m to expand the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub to be available to the public 24 hours a day, for seven days a week, £1.2m to provide extra capacity for Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) and over £1m to roll out the Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme on a national basis.

“Protecting good mental health in Scotland will be central to our long-term response to the pandemic and – as set out in our recent Mental Health Transition and Recovery plan – the Scottish Government is committed to doing more.

“A key part of this is our work to enhance access to and the quality of services.

“We have committed to building on innovations and new service designs that have emerged, such as the establishment of mental health assessment centres and the expansion of digital services where they can best meet patient needs.

“We will also work with NHS boards to ensure they are able to respond to any increase in demand over the coming months.”

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