Holyrood has voted to declare that Scotland is facing a “mental health crisis”, with opposition MSPs uniting to defeat the Government.
The vote in the Scottish Parliament came as the Health Committee warned that after the coronavirus pandemic “a mental health tsunami is coming, if indeed the first wave has not already reached us”.
Committee convener Lewis Macdonald raised concerns in a letter to public health minister Mairi Gougeon, urging her to set out how the Scottish Government would deal with the situation.
That came as the Liberal Democrats raised the issue in a debate at Holyrood, where the motion, which “recognises that there is a mental health crisis in Scotland”, was passed by 65 to 58.
During the debate mental health minister Clare Haughey told MSPs that mental health funding in 2021-22 would be more than £1.2 billion.
She also highlighted a £120 million mental health recovery and renewal fund, announced by the Scottish Government on Tuesday, hailing it as the “single largest investment in mental health in the history of devolution”.
However Ms Haughey accepted the pandemic had been a “time of national trauma”, as she said mental health would continue to be an “absolute priority” for ministers.
She said: “The mental health impacts of the pandemic have brought new and significant challenges across Scotland. We have been through several stages of lockdown, restrictions and recovery, and each of these phases has had widespread impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of people across the country.
“The experience has been draining psychologically for many of us. The importance of mental wellbeing has been all too clear.”
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Quite simply there is a mental health crisis in Scotland.
“I believe this has been clear for some time, that the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc and devastation not only on physical health but on emotional health too.
“Bereavement, cabin fever, anxiety around personal prosperity, have all taken their toll, but isolation is one of the worst contributing factors to poor mental health and our communities have had that in spades.”
In the same way that Holyrood had declared a climate emergency, he said it was necessary to do the same for mental health to “drive change, to ramp up services and to improve interventions and prevention”.
Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron claimed the “Government has completely taken its eye off the ball and we can see how that has impacted mental health services across Scotland”.
The Tory MSP said: “We need a Government that will focus on tackling the mental health crisis head-on, and not burying its head in the sand.”
The comments came after Mr Macdonald issued his own warning on mental health.
The Health Committee convener said: “It is clear from this work we have undertaken, but also every other session we have held recently, that a mental health tsunami is coming, if indeed the first wave has not already reached us.
“We would welcome the Scottish Government’s proposals to address the mental health concerns we have heard about.”
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