I sent a letter by Email to the First Minister, Scottish Parliament, on 28 April 2015:
Strapline: mental health in the SNP Manifesto – mentioned 4 times in 38 pages – nothing about parity of esteem or human rights in mental health
I am writing to you regarding the SNP Manifesto and to express disappointment that “mental health” is only mentioned 4 times (three times in the one paragraph) in the 38 page document:
“We will demand an urgent review of the conditionality and sanctions regime, in order to deliver an overhaul of the current, deeply ineffective arrangements, which impact on some of the most vulnerable in our society. The review will take particular account of the needs of people with mental health issues.” page 16
“We’ve already committed £15 million to a mental health innovation fund and, as part of our proposals for higher health spending, will seek to increase this investment to £100 million over the next 5 years. Resources will be directed towards projects that will improve mental health treatments in the primary care sector. The fund will also enable further investment in child and adolescent mental health services. Scotland was the first country in the UK to introduce waiting time targets for these services, and we have increased the workforce by 45 per cent.” page 30
There is no mention of Parity of Esteem between mental health and general health services, and neither is there any mention of mental health and human rights. I notice that the main parties – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat – have gone into detail about improving mental health services. It was reading this report earlier that spurred me on to write to you:
The main reason for my disappointment and dismay at mental health not being given its place in the SNP Manifesto is because of what happened to my son in Stratheden Hospital, Fife, in February 2012, when he was locked in a seclusion room with no toilet or water to drink, in the dark, for hours at a time, unobserved. Broken hand untreated. The psychiatric nurses were using the locked seclusion room to “manage” the patients. Lack of resource. Bad practice. Patients at risk. Mental Health Act not implemented properly or monitored effectively. Human rights abuse.
The cost of an inpatient bed/week in Stratheden Hospital is approximately £2000-2500/week whereas in Carseview Centre, Dundee, it is £3000/week. (I did FOI requests) The cost of a general acute hospital inpatient bed/week is around £4500 (I heard Alex Neil mention this amount at the SNP national conference in Perth, October 2013, which I attended, all four days of it, when I was a member of SNP.
The sums don’t add up. Mental health treatment is below par, resource wise, and I contend that psychiatric inpatients in Scotland are suffering for it. Some are at risk of psychiatric abuse. It happened to my son and it will be happening to others. That is a given even if few are speaking out about it for fear of retaliation. Following the abuse of my son Scottish Government gave £4.4million to NHS Fife health board to build a new IPCU (starting soon so I hear).
Despite the lack of support for mental health in the SNP Manifesto I appreciate other points in the document. The attention to Carers and to those on welfare benefits. The points about equality. However it is my belief and contention that until mental health treatment is on a par with physical health treatment, in terms of resource and human rights, then those of us entering a psychiatric ward in Scotland will be a risk of psychiatric abuse. I speak from personal experience, as a psychiatric survivor.
I am copying in SNP Chief Executive, Peter Murrell, and my MSP Roderick Campbell, for their information. Also the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, and the Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health.
Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)”