MSPs Urged To Back Mental Health Strategy

20 January 2016, 07:19

Politicians are being urged to support a new mental health strategy prioritising early intervention ahead of the Holyrood elections.

Charity SAMH wants party leaders to sign up to a 10-year strategy that would improve access to support, employment opportunities and suicide prevention.

More than 700 people who have experienced mental health issues or seen family or friends struggle contributed to SAMH's "manifesto'', which includes plans for a new support service dedicated to GPs to offer greater choice, access and response times for mental health patients.

SAMH chief executive Billy Watson said: "Whoever wins the Holyrood election must seize the opportunity to put in place measures to transform the mental health of people in Scotland.

"Now is the time to be bold, creative and innovative. The voices of thousands of people are calling out for Scotland's political leaders to rise above party politics and commit to a long-term approach to mental health highlighted in our Ask Once, Get Help Fast manifesto.

"SAMH calls for a generational change to our mental health system to one with a greater focus on prevention and early intervention.''

The charity's campaign is supported by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) in Scotland.

A spokesman said: "RCGP Scotland is pleased to see a consensus among service providers.

"SAMH's manifesto calls relating to primary care and GPs are in line with RCGP thinking and provide further evidence of the need for change.

"We support those calls. Links practitioners and social prescribing will undoubtedly improve patient outcomes and ease patients' access to GPs across Scotland.''