MSP highlights mental health challenges

A Highlands and Islands MSP has warned of a growing crisis in mental health.

Jamie Halcro Johnston, the Scottish Conservatives Shadow Education Minister, said he was particularly concerned about the well-being of young people who have been badly affected by the pandemic, and may be worried about their future prospects.

His comments come after new figures showed referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) had declined over the lockdown period across the NHS Grampian area, which includes Moray, from an already low level - while waiting times have once again started to creep up.

Jamie Halcro Johnston said:

“There are worrying signs that more and more people are facing challenges with their mental health.

“Recently published data by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that twice as many adults in Britain are reporting symptoms of depression compared with this time last year. And we have just seen reports that the number of mental health emergencies reported to the police in Scotland have soared  by 20 to 25 per cent during lockdown.

“This then begs the question - does the NHS, as well as schools and other agencies with responsibility for vulnerable people, have the resources to support people who may be struggling?

“I’m concerned that, in the event of a second wave of coronavirus, our support organisations may be overwhelmed by new cases of people needing help. Instead, we are seeing referrals fall during the pandemic and waiting times increase.

“As mental health is so critical to our sense of ‘wellness’ and well-being, and affects not just ourselves but our families and even our fellow-workers, Ministers will have to work hard to ensure that the resources are there when people need them.

“This is likely to become one of the main challenges going forward and Scottish Ministers must ensure they are ready for it.”