Better Mental Health Support Urged

4 March 2015, 07:18 | Updated: 4 March 2015, 07:20

The NHS should give equal regard to the treatment of mental health conditions as it does for physical ailments, according to the Liberal Democrats.

Health spokesman Jim Hume said patients are waiting months for mental health treatment, a situation that would be unacceptable for physical conditions such as broken bones.

The Lib Dems will call for equality in treatment of mental health conditions to be enshrined in law during a debate in Holyrood today.

Mr Hume said: "There is an increasing recognition that mental health is just as important as physical health but this has not been matched by support for crucial mental health services.

"Treatment targets for people struggling with mental ill health are routinely missed. Too many young people face waits of over six months to be treated for mental ill health.

"In the face of these facts it is all the more concerning that calls from experts for additional resources have largely fallen on deaf ears. Our mental health services are facing multiple crises as a result of the SNP's failure to give NHS staff the support they need.

"We would not expect someone struggling with a broken leg to wait months for treatment. But these are the delays that people struggling with mental ill health routinely face.

"The Government needs to step up and take action, starting by enshrining parity between treatments for mental and physical ill health in law.''

Jamie Hepburn, the Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said: "Since 2009, we have invested nearly £17 million in child and adolescent mental health services, and the specialist workforce has increased by 24% to a record level. This government introduced the waiting times target that no one will wait longer than 18 weeks for treatment, with people needing urgent treatment seen more quickly, sometimes on the same day.

"There has been significant progress in improving these waiting times, but we recognise that more work needs to be done.

"At the end of last year, we also announced an additional #15 million over three years for mental health services - to increase the workforce and establish a Mental Health Innovation Fund.

"There is already legislation in place to say that physical and mental health has equal importance in Scotland.''