Low staff morale and problems with working practices need to be
tackled if the new Scottish Mental Health Act is to work, according
to an assessment of mental health services.
The report concludes that organisational culture for front-line
staff must change, highlighting a lack of clarity about
accountability, roles and responsibilities. There was also negative
feedback from service users, while a lack of funding had lowered
The act, due to be implemented next year, will ensure that
compulsory detention measures will be applied only when strict
criteria have been met, and will include patient participation in
devising care services.
The report recommends that more responsibility be given to
front-line staff with a clear objective to work more closely with
the voluntary sector, service users and carers.
It draws attention to a serious lack of financial data,
ring-fencing of money and investment for mental health services
It says crisis services should be available 24 hours a day, and
that a range of therapies, including daytime activities, support
for recovery and multi-agency and multi-disciplinary services,
should be available.
In addition, access to in-patient facilities for children and young
people, mothers with babies and those with learning difficulties
should be available through local and regional planning.
Leader of the assessment Sandra Grant said the legislation and its
aims required “changes in service planning, development and
“Although this will not be an easy task, it will lead to real
change in the quality of care for those with mental ill health,”
Richard Norris, director of policy at the Scottish Association for
Mental Health, called the findings worrying, saying there needed to
be shared values between service users and carers.
– Towards Implementation of the Mental Health (Care and
Treatment, Scotland) Act 2003 from www.show.scot.nhs.uk/mhwbsg