The Scottish Government has outlined its post-coronavirus mental health strategy to help those impacted by the pandemic.
Young people, those who have lost their job and people in shielded groups will be a priority for support under the plan, mental health minister Clare Haughey announced on Thursday.
To support those at risk of losing their job, the Scottish Government will offer mental health services through its Pace initiative which helps those facing redundancy, while a target for improving such services has been set for March next year.
For young people, work will continue to offer services through local partnerships, according to the plan, while a learning resource for mental health in children will be distributed to schools by next summer.
By March 2021, the plan says, support will be in place for those with longer term illnesses who have been forced to shield through the pandemic.
Ms Haughey said: “If the past few weeks have told us anything, it is that the road to recovery from this pandemic will not be linear. However, one thing that has remained constant is the importance of looking after ourselves, and of keeping well.
“I doubt there is a single one of us who hasn’t thought about our mental wellbeing, or worried about that of others, at some point during 2020.
“Throughout this year, mental health has continued to be an absolute priority for this Government, and we’ve invested £6 million of dedicated funding to support the whole population.
“Our Transition and Recovery Plan for Mental Health reflects how fundamental this issue is. It is comprehensive, containing over 100 actions, and focuses on the specific mental health needs of everyone across Scotland.”
But Labour MSP Mary Fee said the proposals lack urgency.
“This statement would have been more welcome back in March or April,” she said.
“The statement and the transition and recovery plan lacks urgency, with many of the deadlines set for next spring and summer.
“The Scottish Government has not grasped the enormity of the mental health crisis which faces this country.”
Ms Fee went on to ask the minister about the support for those who are at risk of losing their job as well as people who were in the shielded category during the height of the pandemic.
She added: “The Scottish Government must prioritise the mental health of those facing redundancy and those shielding now, not next March.”
In response, Ms Haughey said: “What we are looking to do is providing almost a bespoke response to the situation that we currently find ourselves in and that we anticipate we will find ourselves in in the coming months.
“None of us are able to predict what will be the mental health impact across the country, so we are trying to ensure that, right from tackling discrimination and stigma to specialist inpatient services.”