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Funding for digital mental health services

28th March 2020

Additional £3.8 million to expand support.

Extra funding to develop mental health services to cope with further demand as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been confirmed by the Scottish Government.

Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey announced a further £3.8 million to begin to increase the capacity of NHS 24's telephone and online services.

This includes £2.6 million to expand the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub and Breathing Space telephone helpline and web support service and £1.2 million to provide extra capacity for Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT). Information about these expanded services will come on line as they become active.

Ms Haughey said:"Dedicated mental health professionals provide high quality care across Scotland - but in these trying times they are needed more than ever.

"The current situation around COVID-19, including concerns around social distancing, is an understandable cause of anxiety for many people. NHS 24 has already begun to see an increase in calls, including to Breathing Space, in recent weeks and anticipate this will continue to grow.

“It is vital that during this period of uncertainty anyone who requires support for their mental health can receive it."

This additional £3.8 million will support a two-strand approach to the health response to COVID-19, both increasing the capacity of existing services while aiming to reduce demand.

Funding of £2.6 million will provide additional capacity to the NHS Mental Health Hub of 27 full time equivalent (FTE) Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners, five FTE Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, and two FTE Senior Charge Nurses to provide 24-hour cover. This service is currently only available out of hours during the week and over the weekend.

This will take the total staffing for the hub to 69 PWPs, 20 MHNPs and six SCNs (all FTE).

The number of Breathing Space advisors will increase by 10 FTE workers and two FTE supervisors to expand both the telephone and webchat facilities. NHS 24 will also adapt a number of self-help guides and online resources through the NHS Inform website.

Funding of £1.2 million in the financial year 2020-21 will provide additional capacity to meet the immediate COVID-19 challenge on digital therapies supporting the rise in demand and addressing the pressure on core NHS mental health services. This will give support to the public and also to the Health and Social Care workforce and their families.

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