Stop the platitudes and get to grips with mental health treatment

Poor mental health is a serious public health challenge. Most of all, it can be very frightening and isolating for those who experience it.

Friday, 2nd June 2023, 3:29pm
Stop the platitudes and get to grips with mental health treatment

I write this following Mental Health Awareness Week and after contributing to the recent Scottish Parliament debate on rural mental health.

The reality is that Scottish mental health services simply are not meeting existing levels of demand.

Thousands of children and adults are on waiting lists, and thousands more are being rejected for mental health treatment after their initial referral.

Furthermore, on the SNP’s watch, 1.5 million working days have been lost in the NHS due to mental illness since 2018.

There is a mental health crisis in Scotland. After 16 years at the helm, the SNP Government—along with its Green partners—must take full responsibility for the mismanagement of our mental health services.

Over the past year, I have been supporting a constituent in Angus and her family whose horrendous story brings into sharp relief why the system must change.

After receiving successful treatment in a central belt mother and baby unit for postpartum psychosis, my constituent was sectioned in the Carseview centre in Tayside, where mental health services were so poor that they were subject to an independent inquiry by Dr David Strang.

The transition from perinatal mental health services to general adult services was abrupt and distressing.

My constituent was separated from her children and her support system. She was very, very scared.

She described the experience as being “like living a nightmare; the whole experience just didn’t seem real.”

My constituent’s sister has been advocating on her behalf and has lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament to try to have maternal mental health services improved .

The Scottish Government must do better for women as they navigate motherhood.

It is shocking that the government’s mental health strategy mentions “women” only four times—and one of those is in a footnote.

The strategy is gender blind, even though women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety as men.

The Scottish Conservatives believe that we need modern, efficient and local solutions for mental health care.

For communities across Scotland and in the north-east, we want to see local delivery.

I have raised the closure of the Mulberry U nit for acute mental health care at Stracathro Hospital numerous times with the Scottish Government.

The unit closed because of insufficient staffing, which is a problem that we keep seeing in healthcare delivery across the north-east.

Distressed and vulnerable patients in Angus now must travel many miles for mental health treatment. How can that be right?

I urge the Scottish Government to stop the platitudes and recycled policy pledges.

It must get a grip on a crisis that is affecting thousands of people now and that will haunt thousands in the future if they do not get the care and treatment that they need.

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