Improving mental health is a high priority for Scottish Ministers and the NHS in Scotland. In 2003 we enacted ground-breaking mental health legislation that puts rights and treatment at the heart of the mental health system, legislation that has generated interest from countries across the globe who want to learn from what we have done. We are also continuing our internationally recognised work on social inclusion and population mental health. The more that we can do to promote good mental health for all the people of Scotland the better. We want to see people living productive, enjoyable and worthwhile lives with good mental health accompanying good physical health and wellbeing.
We can be proud of what we have already achieved, but there is more to do. In Delivering for Health, we said that we would "develop a national Mental Health Delivery Plan by the end of December 2006 and in so doing, accelerate improvements in mental health services". This document fulfils the first part of that commitment. Our objectives are grounded in the principles set out in Delivering for Health that NHS services should be delivered as locally as possible, provide systematic support for people with long-term conditions, reduce the health inequality gap, and actively manage admissions to, and discharges from, hospital. All of these principles apply to mental health.
Mental health services are well placed to take this agenda forward and to build on previous work in developing local and community services. In so doing, we will build on the positive contribution that mental health services can make to better physical health.
This agenda is not just for the NHS. Much of it is about NHS services, but it is also about what happens in non-health settings and will only be delivered by partnerships between the NHS and local authorities, between the statutory and voluntary sectors and between service providers and users and carers. Service users are central to their own care, treatment and recovery. Patients and carers should therefore be partners in designing and delivering services.
The process used to develop this plan has been important. We have worked over the last 12 months with professionals, managers, the voluntary sector, users and carers to develop the plan. We held two national events to discuss the plan and had an advisory group to assist us in its development. I am grateful to all who made a contribution and I hope that you will continue to stay involved as we move the agenda forward.
Lewis Macdonald MSP
Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care