Third Sector Mental Health Services (Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 14th November 2019.

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Photo of Brian Whittle Brian Whittle Conservative

6. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support the delivery of mental health services delivered by third sector organisations. (S5O-03766)

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

Local integration authorities are responsible for planning and commissioning services, and we expect them to engage third sector organisations as key delivery partners. In this financial year, integration authorities have received more than £6.4 billion to deliver that work. Additional investment, which will rise to £35 million in 2021-2022, is committed to the delivery of 800 additional mental health workers in key settings, which can include the third sector. That is additional to the provision of counsellors in schools and in further and higher education, and to the direct Scottish Government funding to third sector organisations for actions in delivering mental health services.

Photo of Brian Whittle Brian Whittle Conservative

The cabinet secretary will be aware of organisations such as Ayrshire Cancer Support and Break the Silence, which deliver specialist mental health services in my area. I am sure that other members have similar organisations in their constituencies.

Given that the national health service routinely signposts patients to those organisations, does the cabinet secretary agree that the third sector is capable of shouldering some of the load that is piling up on child and adolescent mental health services, and that we urgently need to reassess the way in which we fund that sector?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

I certainly agree with Brian Whittle that the third sector plays a vital role across Scotland, including—as he referred to—in my constituency. I made the point that we have provided £6.4 billion to integration authorities to deliver those services. It is for the integration authorities to design, commission and plan for services that best meet their local needs, and we provide significant financial support for that.

Integration authorities, which involve local authorities, health boards and the third sector, should maximise local resource to ensure that services are delivered. I think that Brian Whittle would agree that it would ill behove the Government to centralise even further than the Conservatives already accuse us of doing by intervening in the matter directly. I expect integration authorities in Ayrshire to carefully consider how they use their third sector expertise.

Photo of Mary Fee Mary Fee Labour

Staff in mental health charities work selflessly to improve and treat the mental health of others. How can the Scottish Government support the mental health of the staff who deliver those mental health services?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

Mary Fee is absolutely right that all staff across mental health services—statutory or third sector—work extremely hard and often selflessly, going beyond the expectations that are placed on them, and her question forms part of the work that we are undertaking post Sturrock. We have input from third sector organisations on how we create a positive working culture that very much focuses on the wellbeing of those who deliver those services.

As ministerial working group progresses its work into the new year, I will be happy, in due course, to ensure that members are updated on the initiatives that will be taken forward.