We're calling on the Scottish Government to ensure counselling is part of new mental health support being made available through GP surgeries.
The Scottish Government announced significant new investment in GP mental health services during a debate in the Scottish Parliament, which we briefed in advance.
Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead, said: "We welcome this announcement, which reflects a call we made in our 2021 Scottish Manifesto for investment in primary care to improve access to counselling across Scotland’s communities.
"While we note the official statement listed a small number of professions who could form part of these new multi-disciplinary teams, we'll be urgently seeking assurance from Scottish Government that counsellors and psychotherapists are part of the offer, reflecting the important life-changing work they're doing on the front line of the mental health pandemic in Scotland."
Under the new system, people who need mental health support will find a range of professionals available through their doctor’s surgery, rather than having to rely solely on their GP or a referral elsewhere. These could include mental health nurses, psychologists, peer support workers, occupational therapists, and link workers, and we want to ensure counselling and psychotherapy is part of the provision.
Services will also connect to community support such as addiction services, food banks and benefit support, through a link worker dedicated to each GP practice. Local Planning Guidance, to support integration authorities and local partners to plan and implement the new services, will be published on the Scottish Government's website this week.
Funding of £1.5 million has already been made available from the Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund. This is expected to increase annually to support implementation of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Primary Care Services, reaching an expected £40 million per year by 2024-25. This could amount to more than £100 million by the end of this Parliament, substantially increasing the mental health workforce and transforming how support is delivered, Scottish Government said.
Minister for Mental Wellbeing Kevin Stewart said: "Mental ill health is one of the major public health challenges in Scotland.
"We know the pandemic has had a significant impact, which is why mental health has remained a priority throughout our response to COVID-19.
"Around a third of all GP consultations now has a mental health component. But the range and complexity of issues requires a more varied and comprehensive response.
"This new multi-disciplinary model will deliver our commitment to provide 1,000 additional dedicated mental health staff by 2026, supporting communities to improve their mental health.”
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