Calls for Scottish Government to prioritise mental health in budget

It comes as a further £30m was cut from this year’s mental health budget.

Calls made to prioritise Scotland’s mental health in Scottish Government budget 2024/25

Seventeen organisations have come together in a call for the Scottish Government to increase mental health funding.

Bipolar Scotland, the Royal College of GPs, Scottish Action for Mental Health (SAMH), the British Psychological Society and 13 other organisations have joined under Scotland’s Mental Health Partnership (SMHP) to call for Scotland’s mental health and wellbeing to be prioritised as parliament considers the country’s 2024/25 budget.

The Scottish Government previously pledged in its Programme for Government that it would increase spending on mental health services to 10% of the total frontline NHS budget.

It also said it would commit 25% more resources to mental health during the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament.

Recent data from Public Health Scotland suggests this target has not yet been met, SSMP warned, who said the current figure sits at 8.8% – a shortfall of £180m each year.

It comes as a further £30m was cut from this year’s mental health budget, confirmed in a letter from deputy first minister Shona Robinson to Kenneth Gibson MSP, convener of the finance and public administration committee.

Lee Knifton, chair of SMHP, said: “We have seen the publication this year of a new and ambitious Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which adopts our Promote, Prevent, Provide framework.

“To deliver its vision of ‘a Scotland, free from stigma and inequality, where everyone fulfils their right to achieve the best mental health and wellbeing possible’ will require radical and long-term change.

“But to deliver the high-quality mental health services we need now, the Scottish Government must act to meet its own stated commitment by agreeing a budget increase.

“We are therefore calling on ministers to increase spending on mental health to 10% of the total NHS spend during the current budget process. We also call on ministers to restore the £30m cut from this year’s budget immediately.”

Mental wellbeing minister Maree Todd MSP said: “The financial pressures across health and social care are, by far, the most challenging since devolution because of high inflation, and the ongoing impact of Covid and Brexit.

“Difficult decisions have had to be made across government to balance the budget and prioritise supporting services, and to make a record pay offer to our NHS staff to best support them through the cost-of-living crisis and to avoid industrial action.

“Between the Scottish Government and NHS boards, we expect spending on mental health to be comfortably more than £1.3bn in 2023/24.

“The revised direct mental health programme budget for 2023-24 is still more than double the 2020-21 budget.

“Most of the spending on local mental health services is delivered through NHS board budgets – and this is not directly affected by the budget reprioritisation.”

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