Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll & Bute, warned that the £10 million extra a year for mental health announced in the draft Scottish Budget is “a drop in the ocean” as new analysis revealed that mental ill health could cost Scotland as much as £10 billion every year.
Independent research cited by the UK Department of Health has estimated that the annual cost of mental ill health in England is £105.2 billion. A population share of this figure would imply a total annual cost of £10.2 billion for Scotland.
SNP Ministers announced an additional £10 million a year for mental health services over the next five years in the 2016/17 draft budget. This is just 0.1% of the estimated annual cost of mental ill health to Scotland.
The Liberal Democrats have called for a step change in the way that mental ill health is treated in Scotland. Mr Reid warned that the new funding announced by the Scottish Government hardly begins to cover the investment necessary to boost stretched services.
“This analysis puts the £10 million a year announced by the Scottish Government into sharp context. The annual cost of mental ill health to Scotland runs to more than £10 billion. This is before you consider the wider human and emotional cost that conditions like depression can have on the families of people struggling with mental ill health.
“The amount of money we spend on mental health in Scotland has fallen as a share of NHS spending every year since 2009.
“Doctors, nurses, therapists and others working in mental health in Scotland are doing fantastic work. But waiting time targets for treatment will continue to be missed and missed again as a result of the SNP government’s failure to take mental health seriously.
“Liberal Democrats have been clear that we need to see a step change in the way we fund and support mental health services.”