Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the Annual Mental Health Nurses Forum in Glasgow about The Scottish Government’s vision for mental health services. We want to make it possible for more people to get the help and support that they need at the right time, so that they can expect recovery and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma

Some of you will be aware of the commitments that the Scottish Government has made in the Mental Health Strategy and in the 2018 Programme for Government. But, I thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the work already underway.

For Children and Young People, the Transition Care Plan, to help them move from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to Adult Mental Health Services was developed and launched by young service users alongside clinicians. This will help make that process smoother and less stressful.

The Suicide Prevention Action Plan was published in August with a target of further reducing rates of suicide by 20% by 2022. The Leadership Group that is steering the work recommended is already meeting. The group membership importantly includes people with lived experience of suicide as well as charities, health care professionals and young people.

Lanarkshire is one of the pilot sites for the Distress Brief Intervention Service. This Service provides a next day contact with a trained worker to anyone presenting in distress to A&E, police, ambulance services or primary care. So far, over 1000 people have now received this intervention in Aberdeen, Lanarkshire, Borders and the Highlands. It has been so successful that a commitment has been made to extend the pilot project to under 18s.

Working to improve mental health care is not just the preserve of the NHS or social care, but it is also the responsibility of the wider public services.

Poverty is the single biggest driver of poor mental health. This is against the backdrop of continuing UK Government welfare cuts and attempts to take Scotland out of Europe which has brought us further economic uncertainty, but the SNP Government are committed to taking every action possible.

This includes protecting people against the worst effects of welfare cuts through our investment of 100 million pounds every year.

The Fairer Scotland Action Plan also sets out how poverty can be tackled, inequality reduced and how we can build a fairer and more inclusive Scotland working with local government, the third sector and communities to deliver this ambition.

Not having a job is the single biggest inequality that people with mental health problems can face and we know that security of income can help reduce stress and anxiety in those suffering from mental ill health. We will use our new employability powers to work across health and employability services to support people with mental health problems to stay in work and to support people to get back into work. We will also encourage employers to support the mental wellbeing of their employees.

Our aim is to create an integrated work and social security system in Scotland that is based on dignity, fairness and respect. This will be a system that helps to support those who need it and when they need it. We will ensure that this works for people with mental health problems.


Date published: 2nd November 2018

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