Support in Mind Scotland is pleased to see the publication of the long-awaited Mental Health Strategy presenting the Government’s vision of mental health 2017-2027 but fears that the document does not go far enough to achieve the ambition of transformative change that drove the consultation. 

The strategy was presented to Parliament by Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt.

We wholeheartedly welcome many of the commitments as reflecting those issues that are key priorities for our members and service users. 

Mental Health and the Justice System: Support in Mind Scotland is delighted to be leading one of the Government’s pilot sites for the Distress Brief Intervention work mentioned by the Strategy, with our focus being Inverness (Action 11). 

Rural Communities: As convenors of the National Rural Mental Health Forum, we are delighted to see the commitment by the Government to support us in our work to “help people in rural areas maintain good mental health and wellbeing” (Action 12) and we are grateful to the Government for their support so far for this work. 

Early Intervention: We are also pleased to see a renewed commitment to achieving best practice in intervening early for people with first episode psychosis (Action 26) but would push for a clear diagnosis to treatment target of 2 weeks to mirror the target set for health services in England and Wales.

Physical Health and Wellbeing: Finally we welcome the strong commitment to parity between physical and mental health as a fundamental principle, with a commitment to achieving equitable provision of screening programmes (Action 30) as this reflects the work we have done with people who have experienced both poor physical and mental health in our Equally Fit project. 

However, there are significant gaps and one of those is the complete omission of any commitment to adult carers of people with mental health problems, as our national campaign including a petition signed by over 350 adult carers, clearly shows the need for dedicated, specialist information and support, particularly for families of people detained by the police or cared for within secure services.  This is an issue we will continue to raise for the next phase of the strategy. 

This new Strategy is a good starting point with much to give us hope that key priorities will be addressed, and we are particularly pleased to note the on-going commitment to review and revise the strategy as the work progresses.  We welcome the commitment to a bi-annual stakeholders’ forum and we will be encouraging people with lived experience of serious mental health problems and mental illness and their families to be involved. 

Frances Simpson

March 2017.