Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has urged the candidates to succeed Nicola Sturgeon to make mental health a “top priority”.
The Labour leader’s comments come in the same week as polls open in the SNP leadership contest, with members to decide between Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, former minister Ash Regan and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.
Ahead of a visit to a men’s shed in Glasgow – one of a number of facilities in Scotland credited with improving the mental health of men – Mr Sarwar called for an end to the “mental health crisis” in the country.
Between 2012 and 2021, 7,576 probable suicides occurred – almost three quarters of those (5,572) were men.
Mr Sarwar said: “For too long, mental health services in Scotland have not been given parity of esteem with other health services.
“We know that mental health services in Scotland are at breaking point, with thousands of calls to mental health helplines going unanswered.
“At the same time, we know that Scotland is lagging behind England and Wales when it comes to the proportion of the NHS budget being spent on mental health
“Men’s sheds, such as this award-winning one in Govan, play a vital role in supporting men’s mental health. These services need supported – not threatened with cuts.
“The next First Minister must today pledge to making ending the mental health crisis a top priority.”