Mental health strategy 2017-2027: first progress report

Our first progress report on the Mental Health Strategy 2017 to 2027.

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Photo of Clare Haughey Minister for Mental Health

We launched our ten year Mental Health Strategy on 30 March 2017, and at the time, the Government committed to provide a regular progress update to Parliament.

I am happy to present this first progress report, which summarises the considerable achievements that have been made since the Strategy’s publication, as well as the progress we expect to see over the next twelve months. Those achievements lay the foundations for the whole system improvements that we know we need to see, however there is still much to be done. The report also describes some of the challenges we face in working towards the central vision of the Strategy.

It is worth repeating that vision, which is of a Scotland where people can get the right help at the right time, expect recovery, and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma.

And our guiding ambition for mental health is that we must prevent and treat mental health problems with the same commitment, passion and drive as we do with physical health problems. You should only have to ask once to get help fast.

The Strategy sets out 40 initial actions to better join up our services, to refocus these and to deliver them when they are needed with work to improve:

  • Prevention, early intervention, and physical wellbeing;
  • Access to treatment, and joined up accessible services;
  • Rights, information use, and planning.

It is important to say that the actions alone will not, in themselves, completely deliver on our vision. They act as valuable and necessary levers to create the change we want to see. But getting to our ultimate vision, and achieving our ambitions, requires work beyond this initial set of commitments, including in policy areas across Government. This report therefore seeks to summarise progress across all of the centrepiece work currently happening to improve mental health in Scotland. That includes the significant commitments that we have made in our Programme for Government for 2018-19.

The 40 specific Actions incorporate a commitment to engaging and empowering individuals and communities as part of a rights-based approach. Everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of mental health, one of our public health priorities is for a Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing. This means that not only health services, but the wide range of things that help us live in good health are available, accessible, acceptable and appropriate, and of equal quality:

  • Housing
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Social support
  • Family income
  • Our communities
  • Childhood experience

Effective partnerships beyond traditional health settings, for example with emergency services, justice and education are therefore critical to delivering the change we want. Staff from NHS Boards, primary care, councils and third sector organisations are making life-changing, and life-saving, interventions every day. The voices of those with lived experience of services also need to be able to effectively inform this delivery.

A human rights based approach is about empowering people to know and claim their rights and increasing the ability and accountability of individuals and institutions who are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights. In our approach to delivering the actions in the strategy we will ensure that service users are involved in ways that make sure that their voices are heard on decisions that impact on them.

The year has been a dynamic one for mental health, with ever rising public awareness of the topic. 2018 is also the Year of Young People. The priority of improving mental health has never been so well described and supported – and young people, in particular, champion the cause relentlessly. They should be commended for doing so. Stakeholders across health and social care also continue to show their widespread desire for improvement. People with lived experience are more able, and are better supported, to describe what they want and need. This has led to a renewed sense of purpose highlighted by the following things:

  • The announcement of a Child and Young Persons’ Mental Health Taskforce chaired by Dame Denise Coia;
  • The creation of a Youth Commission for mental health services;
  • The establishment of a National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, chaired by Ms Rose Fitzpatrick and tasked with supporting the delivery of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan;
  • £250 million for improvements to mental health announced in the 2018 Programme for Government, and;
  • Ongoing Scottish Government support for the See Me anti-stigma campaign, including its specific work to involve young people.

We’re making progress in changing how mental health and care support is available and delivered, and I look forward to us continuing to go further.

Clare Haughey
Minister for Mental Health



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