Scottish Government must 'get to grips' with mental health amidst £38m budget cuts

Scotland’s psychiatrists have warned the Government it must “get to grips” with the nation’s mental health crisis – as the Deputy First Minister announced a £38 million cut to planned mental health spending.

The health budget cuts, worth £400m, come ahead of an extremely challenging winter for the NHS, which is facing record accident-and-emergency (A&E) waiting times, strike actions from nurses, paramedics and doctors, as well as spiralling delayed discharge numbers due to staff shortages in care settings – and all before the expected surge in coronavirus and influenza hits Scotland this winter.

Now the Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for mental health to prioritised amidst a worsening cost-of-living crisis.

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“Considering the cost-of-living crisis poses a real threat to the nation’s mental health, it’s frightening that such little thought has been given to this area of the health service,” said Dr Pavan Srireddy, policy lead and consultant psychiatrist at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland.

Scotland’s psychiatrists have warned the Government it must 'get to grips' with the nation’s mental health crisis
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“This comes at a time when food insecurity, fuel poverty, debt, loneliness – and the isolation that comes with it – is a hard reality for thousands of Scots.

“Those already living with a mental illness are more likely to suffer the consequences of the looming economic downturn, which will be felt for years to come, and as psychiatrists we need to be ready to offer specialist high quality care, that we know can make a difference.

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“The already tight mental health budget will have to stretch even further to keep pace with soaring inflation. We simply must ensure our mental health services are protected.

“We are concerned that the proposed cut to mental health budgets at the time of an existing mental health crisis will mean that some people simply won’t get the help they desperately need. That’s why we’re calling on the Scottish Government to guarantee that 10 per cent of frontline spend is given to mental health and it receives its fair share of funding.

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“The CAMHS crisis must also be dealt with. By 2026, 1 per cent of what we spend on health to support the mental health of our children and young people.”

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