Adult mental health in Caithness: we need to listen to community groups

Scottish Labour’s Highlands and Islands regional list lead candidate, Rhoda Grant, still has concerns for adult mental health services in Caithness.

Mrs Grant tried to schedule a meeting with local organisations and NHS Highland after talking to its Chief Executive, Pam Dudek, but it had to be postponed in the end as the only available date was in the election period

“Although it is very welcome that a package of funding has gone to Highland Council to support mental health and wellbeing services, this is only for children and young people aged from five to 24, or 26 if they have been in care,” she explained.

“Those people aged over 26 are not included in the funding, although I get the impression that the public are not aware of that and believe the package is for everyone struggling with mental illness.

“I know there are still gaps in the service and I pledge to follow up on this, and reschedule the meeting, if elected in May.”

Mrs Grant received appeals from local people last year who were worried about the number of suicides in the area and she had discussions with NHS Highland about putting together a meeting with groups involved in mental health initiatives.

“There is still a conversation to be had and action to be taken on the difficulties faced in Caithness and its distance from central services in Inverness.

“I realise that the Scottish Government will always say that there is a challenge in recruiting staff for areas such as Caithness, but what exactly is it doing to fund more training places, to encourage staff to the Far North, and to think creatively to fill the gaps?

“The Near Me video project is good, but people still need to see professionals face-to-face and close to home and we shouldn’t give up on that.”

Previously Mrs Grant discovered that people with complex mental health problems who need psychology services can sometimes wait nearly two years for appointments.

For psychology services, which are based in Inverness, a person must have an identifiable moderate to severe mental disorder that cannot solely be managed by primary care.