Declare a mental health crisis say Scottish Lib Dem MSPs

Even if your circumstances have not been too adversely affected by the pandemic, chances are you have gone through some mental health challenges. Even people who were coping pretty well have found the dark and cold Winter lockdown pretty grim.

And if you have had to suffer bereavement, loss or financial struggles along the way, it’s been so much harder.

A study tracking Scotland’s mental health during the pandemic found that there was a significant rise in those contemplating suicide or suffering from Depression and Anxiety. The Herald reports:

The second wave of the Scottish Covid-19 Mental Health Tracker survey, which was carried out between mid July and mid August, a time when Covid-19 restrictions had been eased, showed 13.3 per cent had thought about taking their life in the last week.

That is up from the 9.6% recorded in the first wave of the research, which took place between May 28 and June 21.

That was in the Summer when restrictions were at their lowest point and the weather was at its finest

Last month the same paper reported a Federation of Small Businesses survey which found that half of the small business owners who responded said that they were struggling with mental health.

And another report suggested that almost half of young people had said that their mental health had deteriorated due to not being able to see their friends and worrying about their future prospects because of the state of the economy.

Even before the pandemic struck, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services struggled to meet demand. It was not unusual for young people to wait more than a year even to be seen.  You don’t have to be that good at maths to work out that even if you recover within another year, your life has still been blighted for more than a third of your secondary education. That has got to have an impact on life chances.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have been badgering the Government for years to improve mental health services. Now that these under-resourced services are going to feel any more pressure, the party will call for a mental health crisis to be declared in a parliamentary debate this afternoon.

In their opposition day slot, they will ask the Parliament for the second time to declare the situation a crisis. When the issue was last debated back in November 2019 (we are consistent, after all), the Greens and SNP ganged up to remove all reference to a crisis from our motion.

Our Mental Health Spokesperson Rebecca Bell explained why it was so important for the Government to act to help those who are struggling with mental ill health:

“People are struggling. When they turn for help, it is often not there. Problems that can start small, become crises as help is either lacking or arrives too late. Waiting times for mental health services are long and the targets for treating people have never been met.

“That was true before the pandemic, but the situation is now even graver. Sadly with resources vastly outstripped by the demands on services from those who need mental health treatment, departments are forced to focus solely on the acute end of the scale. that means more people are left sick for longer, and just getting worse. We need to aim for prevention as well so fewer people suffer mental ill health in the first place

“We need a transformative investment in mental health, new services which can be quickly accessed locally, and to end the waits of up to two years for help. But that won’t happen unless Parliament first accepts that there is a mental health crisis.

“The Scottish Government voted in 2019 to delete this declaration. As a result, services went into the pandemic still in a weak position.

“Just like the climate crisis, fixing the problem starts with accepting that there is a problem. I hope Parliament will finally do that this afternoon.”

 

 

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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13 Comments

  • Helen Dudden 17th Feb '21 - 11:09am

    I lost my mother at the start of the virus. Legal proceedings were complex, the sale of her property.
    Being shut in is not therapeutic, isolated with little help for hours and hours.
    Yesterday, I went for a ride in my Wheelchair and I remembered the time many months ago, when going out was a pleasure.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Feb '21 - 2:03pm

    I am always glad to see Covid articles. i am really surprised there have been less than I thought here.

    The virus has exposed the weakness in our society in so many spheres.

    Supply in our NHS is awful in correlation with demand.

    Our benefits system is appalling in every sense and requires a new approach.

    Our sense of responsibility as individuals and as communities is low compared to what it ought to be.

    This is universal, but worse in the west in my view, from the constant demand for supposed lockdowns to cease.

    Mental health would improve if people had more hope and real confidence in themselves and their society.

  • nigel hunter 17th Feb '21 - 2:58pm

    Since Thatcher individualism is supreme but responsibility belongs to somebody else..It seeps into communit y (not all) .Support for people,as a result, is not a priority in Tory philosophy (unless you are rich).It therefore increases the need for that support which is not available.The society we live in under Tory philosophy has to go.

  • So pleased to see this article. We must remember that although “protect the NHS, save lives” is a fine motto, the NHS is going to be under enormous pressure to provide mental health services in the coming months and poor mental health costs lives as well as ruining lives.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Feb '21 - 5:08pm

    The comments from colleagues reveal how, though I yearn for a centre left government, to , as Labour plan, remove the private sector from health care, not from the running of large contracts to run hospitals, no problem there, but completely, would be awful.

    We need all involved. We are going to need every healthcare professional in one flexible structure. The NHS is appalling on mental healthcare and lots of other provision, compared to as it should be.

    There is much to much, acceptance of that. No country in the west is as bad on these matters.

  • The factor which has the greatest correlation with mental ill health – and for that matter physical ill-health – is poverty.
    So let us deal with poverty as a priority.

  • This morning’s R4 Farming Today had a piece from Scotland about young farmers and mental health, apparently serious problems from isolation are coming to the fore.
    Very timely.
    (Note: I am not usually up at this early hour!)

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Feb '21 - 10:43am

    “Since Thatcher individualism is supreme but responsibility belongs to somebody else.”
    And those least equipped to fend for themselves (poverty, inadequate education etc.) are left to suffer accordingly.

    “Support for people,as a result, is not a priority in Tory philosophy (unless you are rich).It therefore increases the need for that support which is not available.”
    Tories looking after their own kind ???? – ensuring they have better education opportunities and the right contacts for later life?

  • @ Andy Hyde There’s nothing new in this, Andy…… on both sides of the Border. It needs some joined up thinking.

    THEN : Yes, it is farmers and isolation, but a Cumbria CC Report I quote below from 12 years ago shows the high incidence of suicide associated with poverty in the most deprived areas of West Cumbria. That’s why the party should look again at its record in 2010-15 and put poverty at the top of its Agenda….. as our colleague from West Cumbria, Katharine Pindar, so often points out in her campaign for a Beveridge 2.

    TWELVE YEARS AGO : Epidemiological Review of Suicide in Cumbria
    http://www.cumbria.gov.uk › eLibrary › Content › Internet PDF
    by R Brown • ‎2009 • ‎Cited by 1 • ‎Related articles
    9 Dec 2009 — Such occupations include farming……………….,

    NOW : Desperate Cumbrian farmers on ‘suicide watch’ .
    http://www.newsandstar.co.uk › news › 17469199.desperate-… 2 Mar 2019 — Desperate Cumbrian farmers on ‘suicide watch’ after being driven to the brink by late payments, weather woes and Brexit.

  • David Raw:
    Agreed, poverty stalks the land as well as town and cities.
    Although I was aware of this issue with farmers in rural (and affluent) Aberdeenshire in the ‘90’s, I’m guessing it was the same elsewhere.
    Isolation was then the issue, plus now as you say worries about the future and the current situation many in agriculture find themselves in.

  • David Garlick 18th Feb '21 - 3:06pm

    We have a great Carers Policy. Building on Norman Lamb’s great work to highlight Mental health needs, a policy ton mental health and the way forward would be a great second and would cemment LD at the heart of care.

  • @ David Garlick “We have a great Carers Policy”.

    Sorry, David, but the ‘great Carer’s Policy’, would be more convincing if Sir Edward Davey hadn’t supported the following decisions when he was a Cabinet Minister in 2010-15.

    Press statement by Carers UK : 03 February 2014. “The nation’s carers face devastating £1 billion cuts in allowances. The Government slashes support for full-time carers of older and disabled loved ones. Families caring for older, disabled or seriously or terminally ill loved ones face a shocking £1 billion cut to financial help in the next four years, charity Carers UK today reveals.

    Carers UK condemns the cuts, which it says are already forcing families into debt, arrears and food poverty. The advance analysis from Carers UK’s year-long Caring & Family Finances Inquiry, is the most extensive cumulative assessment to-date of the impact of the Government’s benefits changes on the families of disabled people. The Inquiry (published Tuesday 4th February), shows cuts to financial support for full-time carers between 2011 and 2018 will reach a total of £ 1 billion”.

    1. Carer’s Allowance : 24,457 fewer carers entitled to Carer’s Allowance with implementation of the Personal Independence Payment. £175.63m cut

    2. Bedroom Tax : At least 40,000 carers will have rent support cut by over £700 a year because of the Housing Benefit ‘spare room’ changes. £150.70m cut

    3. Benefit Cap : At least 2,946 carers will have incomes capped, losing an average of £105 a week. This is a £72.4m cut

    4. Inflation Switch : Devaluing of Carer’s Allowance by 2018 with switch from Retail Prices Index to Consumer Prices Index. £421.91m cut.

    t5. Real-Terms Cut To Help For Poorest : 350,000 worst-off carers will be hit by the means-tested benefits freeze. £76.94m cut

    6. Council Tax Support : Over 240,000 carers face additional Council Tax charges following scrapping of Council Tax Benefit. £170.34m cut

    Total Cuts To Carers’ Financial Support by 2018 : £1 billion.

    Actions, speak louder than words, David, and the best predictor of future performance is past performance.

  • Helen Dudden 20th Feb '21 - 9:32am

    Depression, and good Mental Health treatment, has for a long time not been where it should be.
    As a disabled person, I understand the problems with visual impairment and low mood. It’s because of the lack of light to the brain.
    I’ve been writing about the lack of suitable homes for those with Power Wheelchairs. This in turn makes life feel difficult. Add regular pain, and the indignity of inappropriate housing, another. One person who had no where else suitable to live, was placed in a Care Home. He was not elderly.
    Children, are now doubling the already long waiting list, with eating disorders, and other associated mental health illnesses.
    The Care Homes, have been another area to suffer in the present situation.
    During the next few months I believe we will begin to see the true extent of the lack of treatment, and how this will in turn cause more damage.
    I think it’s time, this Government, got at least a better understanding of the problems we all face. Also, that pressure is put on the Government.

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