Ex­tra help for men­tal health ser­vices

Stirling Observer - - READERS’ PICTURES -

Upon re­turn­ing to Par­lia­ment fol­low­ing what was a busy re­cess in the con­stituency, I was de­lighted to take part in a de­bate on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Pro­gramme for Gov­ern­ment. The pro­gramme sets out the SNP Gov­ern­ment’s agenda for the next year, iden­ti­fy­ing spend­ing and leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties.

I took the op­por­tu­nity dur­ing a de­bate to high­light what these an­nounce­ments mean for men­tal health ser­vices.

I know from reg­u­lar con­tact with the lo­cal health board that, as the stigma sur­round­ing men­tal health has been pro­gres­sively lifted in re­cent years, there has been a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the chal­lenges faced by our health ser­vice in terms of de­liv­er­ing the high qual­ity of care that I know they are de­ter­mined to deliver.

There­fore, I was pleased that the Pro­gramme for Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted an ad­di­tional £250 mil­lion of spend­ing to com­ple­ment the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s men­tal health strat­egy – and to pro­mote pos­i­tive men­tal health.

This will in­clude £60 mil­lion for ad­di­tional school nurs­ing and coun­selling ser­vices. School years are a cru­cial stage in a per­son’s life in terms of tack­ling men­tal health prob­lems and pro­mot­ing healthy men­tal well­be­ing. This fund­ing will sup­port 350 school coun­sel­lors and 250 ad­di­tional school nurses.

In ad­di­tion to this, by the end of the next aca­demic year (2019-2020), ev­ery sin­gle lo­cal au­thor­ity area in Scot­land will have ac­cess to men­tal health train­ing for teach­ers. An ad­di­tional 80 coun­sel­lors will be funded to work across higher and fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion, and a com­mu­nity-based men­tal well­be­ing ser­vice for five-24 year-olds will be de­vel­oped to of­fer im­me­di­ate ac­cess to sup­port for young peo­ple.

This is a truly trans­for­ma­tive ap­proach to how we ap­proach men­tal health in our health ser­vice, and one that not only re­flects a change in at­ti­tudes to men­tal health mat­ters, but also ad­dresses the in­crease in de­mand for such ser­vices as more and more peo­ple are gain­ing the con­fi­dence to seek the help that they re­quire.

Across the Stir­ling and Forth Valley area, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is in­vest­ing record amounts of fund­ing into our NHS. Just re­cently, I wel­comed an ad­di­tional £500,000 in win­ter re­silience fund­ing for NHS Forth Valley.

Many peo­ple will re­mem­ber the chal­lenges of last year’s win­ter to our health ser­vice. With pro­longed bad weather pe­ri­ods, and an out­break of a par­tic­u­larly nasty strain of flu, many health ser­vices were se­ri­ously hit with and un­prece­dented level of high de­mand.

This £500,000 com­mit­ted ahead of this year’s cold weather months will go a long way in en­sur­ing that our lo­cal health ser­vice is well equipped for some of the chal­lenges that win­ter can bring.

This week, I have at­tended the of­fi­cial han­dover for the new Bell­field Cen­tre at the Stir­ling Health and Care Vil­lage. This £37 mil­lion project will, once com­pleted, be a fo­cal hub of mod­ern health and care ser­vices in Stir­ling city and I look for­ward to its com­ple­tion.

Lo­cally in Doune, I have re­mained in touch with NHS Forth Valley on the open­ing of the new £3 mil­lion health cen­tre for the vil­lage. I have re­ceived as­sur­ances that this is due to be com­pleted by early Au­gust 2019 and I look for­ward to hear­ing more of its progress.

I re­main in close con­tact with the lo­cal com­mu­nity, GPs and health board re­gard­ing the sit­u­a­tion with GP sup­port pro­vi­sion in Aber­foyle and Buch­lyvie. It is im­por­tant that this is­sue is not used as an op­por­tu­nity for in­di­vid­u­als to make po­lit­i­cal points on; and I hope to see a res­o­lu­tion in the near fu­ture that meets the needs of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Con­stituents can con­tact me by phone: 01786 471899 or by email: Bruce.Craw­ford. MSP@par­lia­ment.scot, of­fice ad­dress: Of­fice 16, STEP, Stir­ling, FK7 7RP.

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