PARAMEDICS being called to more than 10,000 mental health-related incidents each year in Scotland, it has emerged.
Ambulance crews were called to 10,895 incidents in 2016/17 where the primary health issue was psychiatric, according to new figures from the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Statistics gathered by the Lib Dems through Freedom of Information also show there have been almost 55,000 psychiatric call-outs since 2012-13.
The party said the number could indicate a failure to intervene earlier to provide people with the services they need.
Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The work that our emergency services do is incredible, however these new figures demonstrate the scale of the challenge they face.
“While there will, of course, be people for whom an ambulance is the most appropriate service, for others a call-out will be testament to the failure of other services to intervene and provide the treatment they need earlier.”
The Scottish Government published its new 10-year mental health strategy in March, including a commitment to spend £300 million over the next five years.
Mental health minister Maureen Watt said mental health problems should be treated with “the same commitment and drive” as physical health problems, with interventions “as early as possible to prevent issues developing”.
However, Mr Cole-Hamilton said the strategy had been published late and lacked ambition.
He said: “We have heard the SNP’s warm words on mental health time after time but are yet to see the action they promise.
“This passive approach will not deliver the step change in mental health we desperately need.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to end the under-funding of mental health, establish new units for children and provide more professionals at more locations capable of delivering treatments and therapies.”
Mental health minister Maureen Watt said “We are working to increase access to psychological therapies for everyone and improve responses for people who are in distress or crisis through our new distress brief interventions programme.
“The Scottish Ambulance Service is a key partner in this development.
“We have also committed to investing £150 million over five years in improving mental health, with additional funding reaching £35 million over the next five years for 800 mental health workers in key settings, ensuring that local provision and support is at the heart of our plans.”