Judging by the cascade of articles and comment from our current MSP in recent weeks, there is an election coming. Of course, communication from our elected representative at Holyrood is to be commended, but there needs to some quality in the quantity. And when I say quality, I mean truth. Surely, if we are to have the “positive campaign” she promised, that’s the least we all deserve?
Truth in politics is a bit like clay; it can be bent and shaped to construct whatever you want to say and in these days of ‘fake news’ it is all too easy to lose sight of what is right and what is wrong. Call me old-fashioned but this bending the truth is getting a little tiresome.
In her latest communication there is a claim that local mental health services have seen an increase of “4,600 per cent in waiting times for children’s mental health services”.
In truth this is a sensationalised figure, taken out of context during the middle of this terrible pandemic, and does not represent the bigger picture where NHS Shetland are meeting their targets. But it looks good on an election address.
In fact, “prior to the pandemic access to CAMHS in Shetland was the best in Scotland” (Kathleen Carolan, director of nursing and acute services NHS Shetland, quoted in Shetland News on 10 February: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2021/02/10/nhs-shetland-defends-mental-health-service-against-libdem-charge/).
We all know that resources are stretched at the moment but please spare a thought for the staff of mental health services who are doing their best in very trying circumstances, like many people in all walks of life these days.
I really do hope that this criticism of the system by the Liberal Democrats was not aimed at the people on the front line of a mental health crisis.
The Scottish Government is committed to delivering the support needed and have allocated an extra £120 million for mental health in the recent budget. This pandemic will affect more than just people who have contracted Covid-19 and therefore the SNP government will also invest nearly £10 million to speed up treatment in psychological therapies, such as counselling, for adults.
Of course we need to do much more to tackle mental health crisis: but talking down overstretched mental health workers at a time of national crisis does neither Beatrice nor her press office any credit.