The Scottish Government has announced an extra £3.8 million in funding to support digital mental health services as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It said the money will support its two-strand approach to the health response to the virus, increasing capacity while aiming to reduce demand.
The move reflects the acknowledgement that the spread of the virus is intensifying problems among people with fragile mental health.
The funding includes £2.6 million for an expansion of the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub and Breathing Space web support service and helpline.
It will provide for the equivalent of 27 full time equivalent psychological wellbeing practitioners, five mental health nurses and two senior charge nurses to provide 24-hour cover from the hub. Breathing Space – the counselling service – will receive 10 more full-time workers and two supervisors.
The other £1.2 million will provide extra capacity for computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT).
Information about the expanded services will be provided online as they become active.
Minister for Mental Health Clare 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.”
The Scottish Government made a substantial investment in online mental health services in 2018, including the introduction of the webchat function on Breathing Space.
Image from Alachua County, CC BY 2.0