MYH Press Release July 2009

Some people seeking mental health services in Scotland are being kept waiting for more than a year, Audit Scotland reported recently.

It found waits of between 58 and 77 weeks for psycological therapies in two areas covered by NHS Highland.

In Tayside, 40% of older people being referred for psycological services were waiting longer than 18 weeks. However, it stated that the situation in Tayside had improved this year.

The report said that 850,000 people experience mental health problems at any one time in Scotland. It said that although mental health problems can affect anyone, those living in deprived areas were at higher risk.

Audit Scotland found that there was strong support from health professionals, and that there had been 'significant developments' in mental health provision recently.

Deputy auditor general for Scotland Caroline Gardner said: "There have been programmes to reduce the stigma of mental health problems but more needs to be done.

"There is also a need to ensure that people can access the services they need as quickly as possible and that they can get help out-of-hours or at times of crisis."

The report stated that the NHS spends £930m a year on mental health services, but this is likely to be an underestimate.

The auditors said that previous research indicated that the overall cost to society - including days lost at work - could total £8 billion.

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