Yousaf urged to act as analysis shows drop in mental health spending

Press release, Scotland news
17 August 2023

A group of leading psychiatrists have written to the First Minister with serious concerns over mental health funding in Scotland after analysis revealed spending is lower than it was a decade ago.

Research from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland revealed mental health services receive a smaller share of the NHS budget than they did a decade ago.

Using Public Health Scotland data, the body found frontline NHS spend on mental health reduced from 9.12% of the budget in 2011/12 to 8.78% in 2021/22.

At the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, the SNP pledged to spend at least 10% of the frontline NHS budget on mental health.

The letter to Humza Yousaf said:

“As a college, we have serious concerns around the funding of mental health services in Scotland.

“We supported the mental health spending commitments in the Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party’s shared policy programme.

“In particular, we welcomed the commitment to ‘increase spending on mental health services to 10% of the total frontline NHS budget by the end of this parliamentary session’.”

The letter also warned mental health staff face “incredible pressure”, and that redirecting resources such as mental health workers into acute services cannot become a regular habit.

It added:

“If the workforce is not to be completely overwhelmed, it is essential that Government now honours its spending commitment.”

Dr Pavan Srireddy, policy lead at the college, said:

“We have written to Humza Yousaf asking him to honour the commitment made more than two years ago to ensure mental health services received the funding they deserve and so desperately need – however despite promises we’ve not seen this come to fruition.

“Funding for mental health and physical health should be prioritised equally.

“What we face is a mental health emergency with demand only set to soar due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

“We also need the workforce in place to keep up with that projected increase in more patients seeking treatment.

“We’re seeking clarification now on how the Scottish Government plans to divvy up this money.”



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