NHS24 in Scotland will receive an additional half a million pounds to expand services to support people with mental health problems.

Announced today on World Mental Health Day, the Scottish Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt, said the funds will be used to improve non-urgent support through NHS24’s telephone and online services.

Maureen Watt MSP
Visiting the NHS24 centre at Clydebank the minister said: 

“We want to provide a better first response to people seeking help, one that directs them to the best service to meet their needs.”

“Building on the plans laid out in our Mental Health Strategy, this £500,000 funding package will help NHS24 to improve their mental health services, whether online or via telephone. This is a key part of our work to intervene early, which we know can help prevent problems from worsening.”

NHS24 will use the development funding to improve the services it offers to people experiencing low mood, depression and anxiety, supporting those who need unscheduled care but do not require to contact emergency services

The number of people who contact the dedicated NHS mental health service, Breathing Space, has doubled in the past 10 years, from 38,000 in 2006 to 87,000 in 2016.

The minister was also speaking at the SNP Conference fringe event, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, in which she encouraged employers to continue to develop services, including mental health first aiders, for their employees.

In a survey of 1000 employees and employers across the country, the Foundation reported that over 80% of employees would not be comfortable disclosing a mental health condition to their employer and that almost half would make up a physical reason for missing work to avoid the stigma of mental health.  Even more worrying was the fact that 1 in 3 employers didn’t know their own procedures to follow if a member of staff disclosed mental health problems to them.

Speaking about his personal experience, ScotRail’s Head of Stations and Infrastructure, Peter O’Connell, said he had benefitted from private insurance which helped him receive in-patient treatment for significant low mood and depression which had reached a crisis point. ScotRail have a programme to support employees who present issues to their manager, with the expectation of a 1-day referral. They also provide trauma counselling and services to staff affected by incidents on the job, such as suicides and now extend this service to include anyone caught up in the incident, including members of the public.

If you need support with your mental health, you can call Breathing Space on: 0800 83 85 87

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