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Scottish Government announces £40 million mental health support for GP practices

By Ewan Malcolm

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THE Scottish Government have announced more mental health support backed by up to £40 million of yearly investment.

Minister for Mental Wellbeing Kevin Stewart.
Minister for Mental Wellbeing Kevin Stewart.

More mental health and wellbeing services will be provided within GP practices and community settings as part of the support.

Under the new system, patients who need mental health support will find a range of professionals available through their doctor's surgery, rather than having to rely solely on their GP or a referral elsewhere. These could include mental health nurses, psychologists, peer support workers, occupational therapists, and link workers.

Funding of £1.5 million has already been made available from the Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund. This will increase annually to support implementation of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Primary Care Services, reaching an expected £40 million per year by 2024-25. This could amount to more than £100 million and has the potential to substantially increase the mental health workforce and transform how support is delivered in Scotland.

Kevin Stewart, Minister for Mental Wellbeing, said: "Mental ill health is one of the major public health challenges in Scotland. We know the pandemic has had a significant impact, which is why mental health has remained a priority throughout our response to Covid-19.

"Around a third of all GP consultations now have a mental health component. But the range and complexity of issues requires a more varied and comprehensive response.

"This new multi-disciplinary model will deliver our commitment to provide 1,000 additional dedicated mental health staff by 2026, supporting communities to improve their mental health."

Dr Andrew Cowie, Deputy chair of BMA Scotland's GP Committee, added: "Scotland's mental health has suffered significantly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and we welcome the additional mental health staff that will allow for our patients to access support within their communities.

"GP practices are most people's first point of contact and it is important that there is a range of help and services available there.

"This is a welcome initiative and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government to develop the scheme and ensure all patients in Scotland can access better mental health in their communities."

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