It is now two and a half years since we published our ten year Mental Health Strategy. At the time of its launch, we committed to regularly update Parliament and the public on our progress with an annual report. I see this report as a crucial opportunity to update and engage on this work.
We continue to deliver on the 40 specific commitments we made in the Strategy. Our central vision, that we are all working towards, remains that 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.
I believe it is also worth taking a moment to reflect on how the mental health landscape has changed radically since 2017. That is in no small part due to the drive and passion of so many people working tirelessly across Scotland to improve services, implement change and ensure that mental health is given the priority and profile it deserves. We have had the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce, the Youth Commission on Mental Health Services, the audit of rejected referrals to CAMHS led by SAMH, and two consecutive Programmes for Government which have featured mental health at their very heart. I extend my thanks to the wide range of partners and people with lived experience who have contributed to this work.
We have published our Vision to Improve Early Intervention in Psychosis. We carried out the largest conversation ever held with young people in Scotland on what mental health means to them, through our Feels FM campaign in collaboration with See Me. We have requested clear plans from NHS Boards for improving the performance of their specialist services. And we have committed to establish an Adult Mental Health Collaborative, bringing together public services, the third sector and communities to improve support for people living with mental ill health.
These are just a few centrepiece examples of our collective ambition at work – this report illustrates many more. Together, this forms a snapshot of some of the work that spans commitments made under the Mental Health Strategy and beyond, and focuses on the full range of work ongoing to support the Strategy’s ambition. The report illustrates our approach across the life course. Regardless of age, you should only ever have to ask once to get the right help fast.
However, challenges remain, and this report lays those out. We know that our specialist services for CAMHS and Psychological Therapies need to deliver more quickly to support those in critical need of help. We have been driving an intense programme of investment and reform with NHS Boards to ensure that there is real, sustainable improvement in performance.
The rising profile of mental health worldwide is a uniformly positive change. We are experiencing a reduction in stigma, although there is still plenty of work to be done before it is eradicated entirely. That, in turn, means an increased willingness to talk about our mental health, and more people coming forward for help when they need it. It is our duty to meet this demand and ensure the right support is available, at the right time. That support should be at any level of need – whether that is through universally available services, in the community, or in specialist mental health services.
Despite the size of the task, there is much that should be cause for considerable optimism. Our dedicated workforce across the NHS, who work so hard day in, day out. The passionate voices of people with lived experience. And our willingness to learn and innovate, working collaboratively to do so.
Together, we will deliver better mental health for all in Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
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