By Bill Heaney
And we thought West Dunbartonshire Council were hopeless at answering the phone to people who called them looking for assistance.
However, it has been revealed on World Mental Health Day by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton that in the 12 months from July 2020 to June 2021, more than 40,000 phone calls to the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub were abandoned.
That’s enough to give people a nervous breakdown, not help to deal with one. Unless, of course, they enjoy listening for hours on end to tedious canned music while they wait.
Figures obtained by Scottish Liberal Democrats through freedom of information requests reveal that out of 129,200 phone calls to the mental health hub, 40,424 calls were abandoned, representing 31% of all calls.
In March this year, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the number of unanswered calls to the Mental Health Hub was “unacceptable”. Since then, over 13,000 calls have been abandoned.
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, right, said: “I don’t think anyone among us would say that the last eighteen months have been easy. The pandemic has imposed an enormous mental burden on people who may have already been struggling.
“Unfortunately these figures show that many of those who reached out for help didn’t get it. They join the many others who have already been let down by the dearth of mental health support in this country.
“The Scottish Government shamefully abandoned the training of new mental health first aiders when the pandemic struck, falling far behind England where online training never ceased.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats secured an additional £120m for mental health in the last budget but this is just a fraction of the commitment that is needed if we are to transform mental health treatment in this country.
“Mental health is still nowhere near as supported as physical health. This World Mental Health day, we must do better.”
Health Board headquarters at Gartnavel. Between July 2020 and July 2021, 40,424 calls were abandoned, 88,776 calls were answered. Top picture is of mental hospital at Gartnavel.