Has there ever been a time when mental health was supported properly? Why is it that our mental well being is not given the same priority as physical health ?
The 2020 Mental Health Officer Report has been published. This provides data and statistics from last year – when we were in the midst of the Covid pandemic, under lockdown – it shows how local authorities were providing support through Mental Health Officers.
What is a Mental Health Officer (MHO) ?
An MHO is someone who:
• is a qualified social worker and
• has successfully completed an approved MHO training course and
• is employed by a Scottish local authority.
Within that job description there are various kinds of MHOs. An Exclusive MHO – is just that – they concentrate on mental health support. Some MHOs are used to cover other work.
In Scotland’s local authorities these are the numbers of people working as MHOs
|Mental Health Officers||687||709||699||671||677|
In Orkney the Mental Health Officers do not primarily carry out statutory MHO work. There are 4 of them (2020) . They carried out 14.7 hours of work (Per 10,000 population) directly related to that role.
In Shetland which has 9 MHOs, they carried out 42.9 hours of work (Per 10,000 population) directly related to that role. In Scotland the average is 21.3 hours of work (Per 10,000 population).
As you can see Orkney is well below the Scottish average. The Western Isles has an abysmal rate of 2.3 hours (per 10,000 population) carried out by 3 MHOs.
Shetland has the most MHO posts per 100,000 population (39.35). The nine Shetland MHOs spend 98 hours each week on MHO work between them (an average of 10.9 hours per post).
Worryingly, for the whole of Scotland, people continue to leave the profession. The report states that over the last 3 years the highest number have left posts since records started in 2012.
Lorraine Gray, SSSC Chief Executive said:
“While it’s positive to see fewer local authorities reporting they are short of MHOs, there are still challenges as the number of full time MHOs needed to meet the shortfall in hours has increased to 53, up from 49 the previous year.
“Our data reports help local authorities, the Scottish Government and others with future workforce planning, including succession planning and making sure enough people are undertaking the training required to join the workforce.
“Although 89 MHOs left their posts in 2020, 51 social workers completed their MHO Award. It’s also positive to see the percentage of MHOs aged under 45 has increased from 25.8% in 2016 to 30.8% in 2020.”
When will mental health be regarded with the same priority as physical health?
The platitudes of politicians voicing their concerns over mental health services is not being translated into real action at local level in too many parts of Scotland – including Orkney.
You can access the report here: Mental Health Officers (Scotland) Report 2020