News

More mental health workers recruited

Published: 15 Mar 2021 10:45

Improving access to dedicated professionals.

More than 500 additional mental health workers have been recruited over the past three years in a drive to expand the workforce and improve access to treatment.

The Scottish Government has made over £51 million available since 2018-19 to support the employment of additional mental health workers in key settings such as Accident and Emergency departments, GP practices, police station custody suites and prisons.

The latest figures show that as of January 2021, an additional 560 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) mental health posts have now been filled, putting the workforce on track to reach 800 additional staff by 2022.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said:

“It’s encouraging that we are on track to recruit an additional 800 dedicated mental health staff by 2022, as we set out in our mental health strategy. This is already helping to improve access to services across the country, which is particularly vital in remote, rural areas, and we will continue to invest next year to ensure we meet our commitment.

“As a former mental health nurse, I know how rewarding a career in this field can be, and I want to thank all of our dedicated mental health professionals for the vital care they provide.

“Continuing to expand the workforce will be even more vital as we respond to increased demand as a result of the many impacts and mental health challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Our £120 million Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund is the single largest investment in mental health in the history of devolution, and shows the priority we are placing on mental health.

“We are committed to continuing work to improve access to services across Scotland as well as ensuring good mental wellbeing at a population level, a comprehensive distress response, and the right help and support in our communities.”

Background

The figures are outlined in the latest progress report, which provides an update on the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase the number of mental health workers.

Action 15 of the Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027: "Increase the workforce to increase access to dedicated mental health professionals in all A&Es, all GP practices, every police station custody suite, and to our prisons. Over the next five years increasing additional investment to £35 million for 800 additional mental health workers in those key settings."

If someone presents as ‘in distress’ to emergency services or in a primary care setting, The Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme can offer them a call from a trained operator within 24 hours. They will then be provided with up to two weeks of one-to-one support to help address issues which might be contributing to their distress, including, for example, money worries and relationship problems.  In April 2020, as part of our response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a new pathway to the DBI service was created through NHS 24’s Mental Health Hub.