Scots waiting too long for mental health help, says SAMH

Billy Watson wants to see more done to help mental health patients
Billy Watson wants to see more done to help mental health patients

Mental health patients in Scotland are waiting 18 weeks or more for psychological therapy services, a new report shows.

Statistics out this week from NHS Scotland revealed just five out of 14 health boards achieved the Scottish Government’s target of delivering a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks to 90 per cent of patients.

Now Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) is calling for an independent inquiry into the failure to meet current targets.

Billy Watson, SAMH chief executive said: “Patients’ 
experience of accessing psychological therapies in 
Scotland is simply unacceptable.

“We are calling for this failing target to be made a priority, with an independent review into the failings of many health boards to meet the 18 week target.

“Scotland was the first country to introduce waiting time targets in 2010.

“We call on the Scottish Government to support all health boards to meet this and an interim 12 weeks target, giving mental health parity with treatments for other illnesses.”

From those surveyed, almost half found the length of waiting time very or quite difficult.

A fifth waited one to three months to begin treatment, while over a tenth waited between three to six months, and 38 per cent felt that once in therapy they did not receive enough sessions.

Mr Watson added: “We can and need to do better.

“It’s our ambition to offer anyone experiencing a mental health problem, a system that has an “ask once, get help fast” approach.

“With one in four people in Scotland experiencing a mental health issue every year, we can’t afford not to ensure patients are given the same level of care as those with physical ailments.

“Our ultimate goal is to help provide a framework that will mean all patients receive the information and support they deserve as quickly as possible.”

SAMH has published a manifesto recommending where improvements should be made.