Charities have responded to a consultation on the Scottish Government's 10-year mental health strategy
Third sector organisations are in danger of being ignored under the Scottish Government’s new mental health strategy, a charity has warned.
Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS) said the 10-year strategy framework made only “minor references” to the third sector and risked overlooking its “extensive pool of resources and expertise”.
Calling for charities to be more embedded in the strategy, VHS said it was “crucial” that the work of third sector organisations was “acknowledged, harnessed, supported and developed” in all stages of the proposals.
“As it stands, the 10-year vision make only minor references to the third sector at all,” VHS said.
The mental health strategy will need to make the role of the third sector much more explicit for it to become a meaningful contributor and equal partner in the design and delivery of preventative interventions
“The mental health strategy will need to make the role of the third sector much more explicit for it to become a meaningful contributor and equal partner in the design and delivery of preventative interventions.”
VHS highlighted the fact that charities can have major impacts on the lives of people with mental health issues, even if that was not their main concern.
“For example, Fife Society for the Blind’s purpose is to support to people affected by sight loss, but the very direct result of their services means that blind people are able to sustain physical and mental wellbeing and are not socially isolated,” the charity said.
VHS also noted that many third sector organisations were able to engage with and gain the trust of vulnerable people in a way that statutory services “sometimes fail to do”.
The charity voiced its concerns in its response to a consultation on the strategy, which the Government hopes will transform mental health in Scotland.
Ministers outlined the plan’s eight major priorities in June and are now examining responses to the consultation before publishing the full strategy later this year.
Charities have broadly welcomed many of the priorities, such as better emphasis on early interventions and improved access to services.
However, in their consultation responses many warned that the proposals did not go far enough.
Support in Mind Scotland (SIMS) said the strategy’s emphasis on services rather than people meant it was “neither visionary nor ambitious”.
The charity wants to see more dialogue with people with mental health issues in a bid to build a “new vision” around which services and support can be tailored.
It also warned that the current proposals do not address the needs of Scotland’s carers, many of whom sees their own health suffer as a result of looking after someone with mental health issues.
Both SIMS and the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH) called for more ambitious targets to be set for services and support networks as part of the strategy, as well as more investment in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
Children in Scotland also called for a bigger role for teachers, school nurses and health visitors. The organisations said addressing children’s mental health requires a response that extends far beyond traditional Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Instead, there should be more focus on addressing children and young people’s social needs alongside their emotional and psychological ones.
Amy Woodhouse, head of policy at Children in Scotland, said: “Our own consultation with Children in Scotland members revealed widespread concern that initial proposals by the Scottish Government were too narrow in their focus – and that they did little at present to recognise or address many of the social factors that can affect mental health, such as poverty and discrimination.”