New mental health strategy

Actions and ambitions to improve mental health care and services.

Improving access to services and supporting earlier intervention is at heart of Scotland’s new ten-year Mental Health Strategy, the Minister for Mental Health has announced.

The strategy has steps to improve delivery of child and adolescent mental health services – including an audit to look at concerns over rejected referrals, and action taken as a result.

The 40 actions in the strategy include:

  • Increasing the mental health workforce in A&Es, GP practices, police station custody suites and prisons – supported by £35 million additional investment over the next five years for 800 extra workers
  • Review counselling and guidance services in schools to ensure they are delivering for children and young people
  • Improving support for preventative and less intensive child and adolescent mental health services to tackle issues earlier
  • Testing and evaluating the most effective and sustainable models of supporting mental health in primary care
  • Funding a Managed Clinical Network to improve the recognition and treatment of perinatal mental health problems
  • Reforming Adults With Incapacity legislation so it complies with the best international standards
  • Establishing a bi-annual forum of mental health experts to help guide the implementation of the strategy in the coming years

Launching the new strategy in a statement to Parliament, Maureen Watt said:

“As Scotland’s first dedicated Minister for Mental Health, I have been driven by a simple principle - that we must prevent and treat mental health problems with the same commitment and drive as we do physical health.

“This guiding ambition is at the heart of the new Mental Health Strategy, working to intervene as early as possible to prevent issues developing while ensuring anyone need only ask once to get the help they need fast.

“This strategy has been fundamentally shaped by the feedback from organisations and service users. Their views have demonstrated passion and the need for change.

“Whether in schools, workplaces, communities or care facilities, we will take forward an initial 40 actions to shape change and ensure mental health has true parity of esteem with physical health.

“None of the improvements can be realised without having the right staff in the right place. That’s why over the next five years we will increase our investment to a further £35 million for 800 additional mental health workers in key settings like A&Es, GP surgeries, custody suites, and prisons.

“The strategy is just a first step, and I believe working with stakeholders and with MSPs across the parliament it can be built on in the years to come. I believe together we can deliver the mental health support, care and services that the people of Scotland deserve.”


The £35 million to increase the mental health workforce is on top of an additional £150 million over five years announced in 2016 for improvement and innovation. This means that over the next five years the total Scottish Government direct investment in mental health will be more than £300 million.

The Mental Health Strategy was informed by nearly 600 responses received to a public consultation and developed with input from local authorities and NHS Boards.

The Scottish Government estimate two thirds of people who would benefit from treatment for a mental illness are not being currently supported, while mental health illness can reduce life expectancy by up to 20 years.

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