Mental Health Strategy annual forum: ministers speech

The Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey addresses the Mental Health Strategy annual forum on 27 November 2019.

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Thank you. It’s a great pleasure to be here with you today at the 2019 Mental Health Forum.  

At a strategic level, mental health is one of the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport’s top priorities. This reflects the importance that the Government, our partners in COSLA, the mental health community and the wider population place on Scotland’s mental health and the services which support it. 

An issue as broad ranging and important as mental health inevitably involves a wide range of partners working together. To do that successfully we need partners to step beyond their traditional boundaries to support positive outcomes against evolving demands and expectations. That is why I am pleased that the theme of today’s event is collaboration. 

Throughout today’s programme we see examples of collaboration. We will hear about large scale strategic collaboration such as the work across Lanarkshire to deliver the new Lanarkshire Mental Health Strategy. We will also hear about some very focused collaborative work such as that of Maternal and Perinatal Mental Health Change Agents.  

And this afternoon there will an opportunity for the people attending the Forum to engage right at the start of the hugely exciting and promising two year Adult Mental Health Collaborative. This work will bring together partners from all over Scotland to work together to identify and implement improvements to the way we deliver adult mental health services. This will focus on the different needs of people in different parts of Scotland. 

The Government’s commitment to mental health is long term and wide ranging. This reflects the need to respond meaningfully to the challenges we face, to deliver on a research informed basis and to keep pace with changing expectations. 

I think everyone in this room recognises and values the excellent clinical work of psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses and other mental health professionals working across Scotland. There will always be a need for the type of support they provide. We are committed to working with them to ensure that access is seamless, quality is high and patient outcomes are positive.  

That is why we are continuing to invest in clinical services, as last year’s commitment to funding of 80 additional Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) staff demonstrates. This is on top of the £54m package of funding over the past four years to support access to CAMHS and Psychological Therapies. This funding is over and above the investment of Boards and other investment such as the Government’s investment in additional mental health workers across a range of settings. Taken together our total investment in mental health exceeded £1 billion for the first time in 2017/18 and reached £1.1 billion in 2018/19. This will remain a funding priority going forward. 

We also recognise the benefits of consistent standards to both the users of services and to those who deliver them. Irrespective of where people engage with services they should be assured that the support they receive is well evidenced, delivered by qualified professionals and provided in a way which is both respectful and focused on positive outcomes.  

We will shortly publish a new CAMHS specification which lays out the standards that children, young people and their families can expect going forward. This work has been heavily informed by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) Audit of Rejected Referrals. Its implementation will be an important aspect of our work in the year ahead.  

This is important progress across the NHS over the past year. But we also recognise that a clinical response is not appropriate in all situations. In many cases it is the environment and social circumstances in which people live that are the most important determinants of good mental health. We see from work across Scotland on supporting our neuro-diverse population that adjusting a person’s environment can transform the quality of their lives. This applies in other settings including mental health. And we all know about the positive impact a social approach in responding to emotional distress can have.  

So for many people earlier support - focused on returning quickly to good mental health - is the right approach and we continue to build this. We are committed to a range of early intervention and preventative services for young people. In partnership with our colleagues in Local Government we are investing in school counselling in all secondary schools and are expanding the availability of school nurses. We are also investing in counselling across our colleges and universities.  

Through the work of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme Board - which the Scottish Government jointly chairs with COSLA - we are implementing some of the key recommendations from the Coia Taskforce, the Youth Commission on Mental Health and the SAMH Audit of Rejected Referrals. This is a collaborative effort and will shortly begin to deliver early results with the emergence of new community mental health and wellbeing services and support across Scotland. 

I was delighted to see that the Distress Brief Intervention pilot programme recently won the “Care for Mental Health” award at the Scottish Health Awards. This is recognition of an innovative project which is providing an ‘ask once - get help fast’ early intervention for people who present in distress but who do not need emergency medical treatment.  

Through a strong collaborative approach across different services the programme has now provided support to well over 4,500 people.  
The extension of DBI to under 18s is now live but is building in a reflective and gradual way. There has been positive feedback that it is helping the young people who have been referred to date. We will continue to work with partners across Scotland on this work to support younger people. 

The Work of the Suicide Prevention Leadership Group led by Rose Fitzpatrick has progressed throughout the last year. The Group published its annual report in September. The recommendations were accepted by both the Scottish Government and COSLA and we will work together on their implementation and on future recommendations.  

This is part of a range of important independently led work that is informing mental health policy and practice. In the past year we have also see the establishment of the Reviews of Mental Health Legislation and Forensic Mental Health led by John Scott QC and Derek Barron respectively. At the same time Julie Cameron and Katie Reid are jointly leading the Body Image Advisory Group. This is a great example of someone with lived experience joining forces with a subject matter expert to develop new approaches. These are critically important pieces of work which are part of a wide ranging programme to help us build a 21st century approach to mental health. 

The Scottish Youth and Children’s Parliaments are working together on guidance for young people on the safe use of social media. This builds on a well-established approach to bring young people to the centre of mental health policy and practice.  

It follows on from the Youth Commission on Mental Health which SAMH supported and the highly innovative Feels FM campaign which See Me facilitated. These are new ways of engaging meaningfully with the people who use our services and we will build on them. 

The Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board – led by Hugh Masters - is working to support the delivery of the First Minister’s commitment to invest £50m in this area. 

This included £1 million of investment that The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport announced on 29 August to support delivery in perinatal and infant mental health this year. 

As part of that £1 million investment, I am delighted to confirm that we will be providing £225,000 of funding to third sector organisations this financial year. Eleven organisations working across Scotland will receive funding for this financial year to ensure that women, babies, children, partners and families receive the best support possible when it comes to befriending and counselling services. 

We will also be providing funding for all successful applicants to receive dedicated perinatal mental health training for their staff to build on and improve services. 

In addition to this funding we will also be running a development and support programme called Building the Sector which will be available to all third sector organisations within perinatal and infant mental health. One to one support will also be available to all funded organisations.  

These important pieces of work are helping us all to develop our thinking and approach to mental health across the spectrum. As we take this work forward it is essential that we continually maintain a focus on the people we are here to serve – the people of Scotland in all of their diversity and brilliance. At all stages we must challenge ourselves to meaningfully respond to people’s experiences and needs.  

We are increasingly bringing an equalities approach to the work of the Government on mental health. There is still much to do in developing this approach and in building the capacity to deliver in a way that meets people’s needs. As we move into new areas of work on mental health we will be embedding equalities within our approach to a much greater extent. To that end I intend to convene a Ministerial Roundtable on equality in the New Year.   

So in closing there is a huge range of work going to deliver the vision of the Mental Health Strategy. No single organisation can deliver in isolation and there is no one size fits all approach. I would encourage you all to use your time today to make connections and to build on the collaboration already happening to deliver on that vision. 

Thank you 



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