Scottish Conservatives commit to increasing mental health funding to 10 per cent of the health budget
The Scottish Conservatives will increase funding for mental health services and sport, the party has announced.
The party wants to grow spending on mental health to 10 per cent of the overall health budget by 2025-26, up from 8.1 per cent at the moment – a rise of at least £325m.
This follows on from a commitment to increase NHS funding by at least £2bn over the course of the next parliament, with a rise by the highest out of Barnett consequentials or two per cent above inflation each year.
Some of the additional funding would be used to expand community mental health services such as cognitive behavioural therapy, social prescribing, exercise referral schemes and peer support.
These services would be available through community triage centres in order to offer people with mild to moderate mental health problems support within six weeks.
The Conservatives also plan to develop a self-harm strategy and update the suicide action plan, as well as improving the use of data and developing a multi-agency workforce plan to ensure the right services are available in the right places.
Speaking at a media briefing, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “On mental health, I think this is one we can all accept, there has been a massive impact on individuals’ mental health over the last year.
The pandemic has seen us shut away in many cases from our loved ones, we've not been getting out and about so much, we've been working from home, so there's no doubt people's mental and physical health, in particular their mental health, has suffered during the pandemic.
“And it's been really difficult to kind of measure that, I think.
“Sadly, probably this week, we'll see the death toll as a result of COVID in Scotland go above 10,000 lives lost and we can recognise and mourn every single one of those lives that are lost.
“But it's more difficult to quantify the mental health impact of this pandemic.
“But it's why we'll be putting in our manifesto an increase in the funding for mental health services, up to 10 per cent of the total health spend in Scotland, because we believe more has to be done and more support needs to be given to mental health services.
“There was already a problem before we came into this pandemic.
“I think this pandemic has exacerbated that problem. And therefore we need to have the support in place.
“And that comes through a number of different measures, but ultimately, with additional funding, something that was called for by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and it's something that I believe is the right move at the right time.”
Plans for sport and exercise include opening gyms as soon as possible, supporting community sports facilities to reopen, an extra £1m for schools to open their facilities to the community and doubling sportscotland’s funding for both grassroots and elite sport.
In addition, the party would back the UK and Ireland bid to host the 2030 World Cup, pushing for the final to be held in Scotland.
Alongside this would be a ‘Road to 2030’ strategy for grassroots football in Scotland.
Ross, who is a football referee as well as an MP, explained: “In terms of sport, clearly we've already called for gyms to be opened again.
“I think it helps people's physical health but I also find when you get on a treadmill or you do a decent training session your mental health also improves, so we do want gyms reopened sooner in Scotland.
“But we're also going to be calling for a doubling of the sportscotland funding to grassroots sports and elite sports because we want to encourage more people into sport.
“I got into it almost in a reverse way because I was so poor at football but I still wanted to be involved in the game, I wanted to get involved in sport stay active, so I took up refereeing, but for others, they just need that help and assistance to pick a sport, to get involved and then to keep them there.
“And I think the funding, particularly for grassroots, and for those who go on to represent their country at elite level, it has to be increased to encourage more people to take up sport, to continue in the sport, to continue to develop.”