Mental Health Problems (Household Debt)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at on 22 February 2024.

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The First Minister:

Let me correct Paul Sweeney on some issues in relation to our funding. We have a good track record on spending on mental health, in the face of 14 years of austerity. Under the Scottish National Party, mental health spending by NHS Scotland has doubled in cash terms, from £651 million in 2006-07 to £1.3 billion in 2021-22—up by almost 100 per cent. Expenditure on child and adolescent mental health services rose from £88 million in 2020-21 to £97.6 million in 2021-22. Of course we have had challenges in the budget that we have just announced, but we have ensured that we are doing what we can to invest in mental health.

Paul Sweeney was right to reference the Citizens Advice Scotland report. The cost of living crisis is undoubtedly a source of deep mental anguish for too many households up and down the country, and we will therefore continue to invest in mental health.

What is worrying is that Paul Sweeney’s party believes in, for example, retaining the two-child limit. The person who is likely to be the next chancellor of the United Kingdom has promised to be “tougher” than the Tories on benefits. Through our actions, we lifted an estimated 90,000 children out of poverty last year. The Scottish Government will invest in helping people with debt and in reducing the cost of living, but how much better would it be if we did not have to continue to mitigate the worst excesses and harm of Westminster but instead took all the decisions about Scotland here in Scotland?