Highlands experiencing a mental health crisis, says MSP Edward Mountain
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Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain has warned that the region is experiencing a “mental health crisis”.
In a speech to the Scottish Parliament today, he criticised the Scottish Government’s record on mental health provision and claimed “the consequences of years of underfunding and under-resourcing our mental health teams is stark”.
The Conservative MSP said: “In NHS Highland, our mental health professionals are doing everything they can to help those in need, but they’ve not been helped by this SNP government or their own health board.
“In the last four years mental health provision has been downgraded. New Craigs hospital in Inverness has seen a reduction in beds and staff.
“It hasn’t been immune from the devastating impact of staff bullying, either – that has taken its toll on our mental health professionals too.
“New Craigs now only has two recovery teams and can only help people when they reach a crisis.
“For some, that’s far too late. Help needs to come far sooner than that.”
Mr Mountain later claimed that the mental health model is so broken that the police are now becoming “the first line of defence in the community to help those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts” in Caithness and Sutherland.
He said: “Firstly, we need to see mental health professionals embedded in our GP practices.
“Secondly, we need to see greater collaboration between NHS Highland and mental health charities and support groups.
“The likes of James Support Group and Mikeysline, charities that do so much to help Highlanders impacted by mental health issues, must be part of the solution going forward.
“More needs to be done to raise public awareness of what support is available right now. We need to introduce effective online portals for mental health support so that people can be signposted to appropriate services and groups in their local area.”
Measures in the 2021/22 Scottish budget announced last month included investment of £139 million in mental health services, supporting overall mental health spending of more than £1.1 billion.