Measures to improve mental health in Scotland set out by MSPs


Following an inquiry into the provision of mental health services for children, adolescents and adults, MSPs on the Health and Sport Committee have set out a number of key issues which they believe will improve mental health treatment in Scotland.

The Scottish Government plan to publish a new mental health strategy next year and the Committee’s letter to Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Mental Health asks for it to be bold, visionary and ambitious. It should also seek to establish a parity of esteem between mental health services and other health provision.

Convener of the Committee Neil Findlay MSP said:

“It is not acceptable that children waiting for mental health treatment have to wait longer than agreed limits. There are currently huge regional differences in the provision of mental health treatment for children in Scotland. It was clear from our evidence that existing resources cannot meet the current demand in certain areas.

“This is simply not good enough. We hope that the new strategy sets out how waiting times can be reduced and most importantly how this will be funded. Otherwise more children will be waiting for treatment that they desperately need”.

The letter outlines a number of observations and recommendations in relation to the current provision of mental health treatment in Scotland:

CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health)

  • The Committee heard the number of referrals for treatment rejected was 20 per cent or around 6,000 children per year.
  • It was clear to the Committee from consideration of available data that existing resources are inadequate in certain areas to meet current demand within acceptable time-limits.
  • The most recent data shows that only half of NHS Boards have achieved the CAMHS target. The Committee is concerned at the huge variation in performance between NHS boards in delivery of the CAMHS target.
  • MSPs expect the new strategy and the review of health and social care treatment targets to reduce the discrepancy in waiting times between Health Boards and set out a clear, funded and measurable timetable for the delays to be eradicated.
  • From the evidence heard the Committee is not convinced there have been significant improvements in prevention and early intervention work over the last 13 years.

Adult mental health

  • The committee were struck by the level of inequality both in relation to who is affected by mental illness, as well as the morbidity and mortality experienced by those with long standing mental health problems. Addressing these inequalities should be at the heart of the new strategy.


A copy of the letter can be found here.

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