Mental health services are not receiving a “fair share” of government funding, a psychiatry body said as figures showed inpatient admissions are at their highest rate in over two decades.
Figures from Public Health Scotland show there were 51,400 mental health discharges in 2019/20, up from around 43,000 in 1997/98.
Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) in Scotland said the services were already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic, despite ring-fenced funding of at least 8.1% (£1.1bn).
It is now calling on the Scottish Government to confirm that the 8.1% will be applied to the additional Covid-19 funding granted in the autumn – which would give mental health services an extra £145m to deal with the impact the pandemic has had on mental health.
The call came as RCPsych in Scotland published its manifesto ahead of the Scottish parliamentary elections next year.
It calls on political parties to recognise there is no health without mental health, to adopt policies that deliver parity between physical and mental health, and work with partners to ensure there is no so-called “wrong door” for Scotland’s diverse communities.
Professor John Crichton, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said: “We have warmly welcomed funding increases in 2019/20, but mental health care did not have the resources to meet the needs of all Scots prior to the pandemic, with the highest rate of inpatient admissions since 1998.
“As clinicians working hard on the front line during the worst health crisis in modern history, we know that the number of patients presenting with mental health conditions will dramatically increase in the future.
“There is no health without mental health and that is why we are calling on the Scottish Government to give us a firm commitment that mental health services will receive its fair share of funding.”
Data from a Scottish Government mental health report showed that high levels of psychological distress (indicating a potential psychiatric disorder) had doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic to 35.6%.
Women, young people, ethnic minorities and the economically disadvantaged had also been disproportionately affected.
A recent YouGov poll of 1,000 people commissioned by the college revealed 48% of Scots thought too little was currently spent on mental health, compared to 3% who thought too much was spent.
The research also showed that 15% thought mental health services should be the top priority when it came to investment, compared to other services such as social care (5%) and secondary care (5%).
Around one-third (32%) of people in Scotland thought mental health services were bad.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our transition and recovery plan, published on October 8, sets out a number of actions to renew mental health services. That includes a national services renewal plan based on workforce, digital services and service reform.
“We have provided £1.1bn to NHS health boards and integration authorities to meet the costs of responding to the pandemic.
“Funding for additional mental health costs reported by NHS boards and integration authorities in their Covid-19 financial returns is included with the £1.1bn allocation and we expect that to be used to meet those pressures and respond to the needs of people who need specialist services.
“In addition, the Scottish Government has made an additional £37m available to sustain essential services and meet the challenges that winter will bring.
“More generally, we have invested heavily in CAMHS staffing in recent years, which is why CAMHS staffing is up by 78% under this Government since 2007.
“We have also invested heavily in psychology services staff and are seeing the impact of this investment – with psychology services staffing at a record high of 1,293.2 WTE, up 9.6% in the last year alone.”