Tories are pledging to increase funding for mental health services by hundreds of millions if they win May’s Holyrood election.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has revealed his party’s manifesto for that vote will include a pledge to ensure mental health care gets 10% of the NHS budget.
Currently just over 8% of health service spending goes to this area, the Tory said, adding that increasing it to 10% could increase funding levels by approximately £325 million.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has already called for mental health care to receive a tenth of the NHS budget – with Mr Ross arguing the coronavirus pandemic meant this was the “right move at the right time”.
He said there had been a “massive impact on individuals’ mental health over the last year” with the coronavirus lockdown seeing people “shut away from our loved ones” and others staying inside for long periods as they work from home.
Mr Ross said that this was why his party “will be putting in our manifesto an increase in funding for mental health services up to 10% of the total health spend in Scotland”.
He told members of the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association that the Conservatives “believe more has to be done and more support has to be given to mental health services”.
Mr Ross said: “There was already a problem before we came into this pandemic, I think this pandemic has exacerbated that problem and therefore we need to have the support in place.”
The Tories said this would be part of a “package of measures” that would also look at how exercise could be used to improve mental health, alongside reforms to help people access services and support more quickly.
Mr Ross said: “The crucial thing is making sure there is funding available then we would look at the various interventions, measure and projects that could most help people.”