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McArthur speaks out on “crisis” facing mental health services

Mr McArthur speaking in Scottish Parliament yesterday at a debate on mental health services in Scotland. © SPCB 2019

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has used a debate in Scottish Parliament to highlight what he has said are “serious pressures” on mental health services in Scotland’s islands.

Describing the situation across Scotland as a “crisis”, Mr McArthur gave a speech, drawing attention to a lack of psychiatric support available on a reliable basis for patients who need it and local child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) that he said are “stretched to breaking point.”

The debate, which was led by Mr McArthur’s party, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, took place yesterday, Wednesday.

The Orkney MSP also pointed out that the needs of those caring for family members with mental health and addiction issues are often overlooked. He used the example of a constituent who had recently been in touch to explain the impact caring duties had had on her own mental health as a result of insufficient support from the relevant local services.

Following the debate, he said: “Poor mental health can affect anyone at any time and have a devastating impact, not just on the individual concerned but those around them. Too often, this aspect is overlooked.

“We know that many people in communities across the country are struggling. Yet when they reach out for help, too often it isn’t available or only available after lengthy delays. This is despite the best efforts of staff working in the sector.

“As a result, more minor problems risk developing into full-blown crises. While this affects those of all ages, it is particularly alarming to see a third of children and young people waiting too long to get the support they need. It can be no coincidence that we are also seeing a rise in suicide rates amongst young people.

“In 2017, Professor Linda Gask produced a report for NHS Orkney identifying the urgent need for increased capacity in local CAMH services and better support for staff. It seems that many of those same pressures remain

“Meanwhile, a number of constituents have contacted me over recent months, expressing concerns about a lack of reliable access to psychiatric care. Again, the consequences here, of delays in care and treatment, are potentially extremely serious.

“While the government has now published an updated mental health strategy and committed more resources, ministers appear unwillingness to accept the scale and extent of the crisis we face. Without that recognition, it is difficult to see how we can expect to see an improvement in the availability of services in Orkney and across the country.”

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