psychiatryScotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new £54 million investment to improve children and adult’s mental health services in the country.

The funding will improve access to psychological therapies for all ages and will aim to offer treatment to an additional 10,000 patients in the first year, an increase of about 25% on current numbers, rising to 20,000 in 2019/20.

Over four years, the money will be provided to NHS Boards to:

Improve capacity to see more people more quickly

Work with Healthcare Improvement Scotland to redesign local services to be more efficient, effective and sustainable

Improve workforce supply and train existing staff to deliver services for children and young people, as well as psychological therapies for all ages.

“Delivering the very best mental health services is a priority for this government,” Sturgeon said. “It is vital that the health service is properly equipped to give those who need support and treatment access to mental health services as early as possible.

“We have been investing heavily for a number of years but there is still work to be done, particularly as awareness of mental health issues increases and the stigma in seeking support is reduced.

“Scotland was the first country in the UK to have a mental health waiting times target – a sign of how importantly we view this issue.

“Our additional funding will also support the workforce and ensure services are designed in the most effective way to meet patients’ needs.

“People who use these services are some of the most vulnerable in society and this extra investment will mean that people will have access to the right services that they need, more quickly. This will make a real difference to people’s lives across Scotland.” 

Billy Watson, chief executive of the Scottish Association for Mental Health, welcomed the funding: “This is a significant moment for mental health and, in particular, the emphasis on improved access to services; people with mental health problems deserve high quality support when they need it. We look forward to future announcements where there is further opportunity for the Scottish Government to make major investments in other key areas of mental health, such as early intervention programmes in primary care where there is also a crucial role for the third sector.”

Simon Bradstreet, network director of the Scottish Recovery Network, added: “This announcement is to be welcomed because people need to get the right help at the right time. We know that recovery is more likely when there is early intervention and a recovery focused workforce. We look forward to seeing how the funding contributes to the transformational change that is needed in Scottish mental health service provision.”

Lee Knifton, head of Mental Health Foundation, Scotland, was particularly happy to see the investment in child and adolescent mental health services: “Children and young people face more challenges to their mental health than ever, and demand for services at all levels is high,” he said. “The evidence is clear that early intervention enables young people to recover quickly, often preventing longer term engagement with services and reduced life chances. Improved access and workforce skills should ensure services are both available, and responsive to what young people want and need.”