Scotland will be left dealing with a “mental health legacy” of coronavirus once the virus has been quelled, the First Minister has said.
Taking part in the first ever virtual meeting in the history of the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon said the effects of isolation necessitated by the outbreak will be felt long after it is over.
In response to a question from Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, the First Minister said funding had been made available to allow for the expansion of counselling services, including the creation of virtual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions.
She said: “Not just in the immediate phase of dealing with this, but I suspect for a long time afterwards, we’re going to be dealing with a mental health legacy of it.
“We have to make sure that the services that provide the help that people need are there and that means expanding access to counselling now, but looking ahead to make sure that these services are appropriate in the future as well.”
The Lib Dem leader asked the First Minister if there could be counselling put in place for NHS staff.
Ms Sturgeon said that there had been funding allocated to expand services which can be accessed online, including the Breathing Space service.
She added that the mental health of people across Scotland, particularly those in the health and social care sector, was “very high on the priority list of the Scottish Government”.
Mr Rennie also asked if the NHS has the capacity to deliver primary and secondary care to people in care homes who have contracted the virus.
Responding, the First Minister said that the NHS was prepared and had the capacity to “deal with the coronavirus challenge”.
She added: “That’s about caring for and treating patients when they need it and in the best way possible.”