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13 Aug 2020

Workforce data

2019 Mental Health Officers’ Report published

A new report, published by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) today, reveals that 94 staff left the mental health officer (MHO) workforce between December 2018 and 2019. The report also shows that although the number of local authorities reporting an MHO shortfall increased to 27, the number of full time MHOs needed to address the shortfall decreased to 49.

MHOs carry out statutory duties in relation to mental health legislation and shortfalls in staffing could result in delays to people accessing services, appropriate treatment and care and hospital discharges.

Phillip Gillespie, SSSC Director of Innovation and Development said: ‘It’s encouraging to see the shortfall of MHOs decrease in 2019, with the equivalent of 49 full time MHOs needed to meet that shortfall. With 56 social workers starting their MHO training in 2019 and funding announced by the Scottish Government in 2019 to support additional MHO capacity in local authorities there are positive moves to help in future.

‘The report also shows the proportion of under 45s has increased from 24.1% in 2015 to 29.9% in 2019 which will help with succession planning in the workforce.

‘Our MHO report contains key data about the workforce in Scotland to help local authorities, Scottish Government and others plan the future workforce. I’m pleased that data from our workforce intelligence team makes a considerable contribution to this work.’

Key points from this year’s MHO report

  • There were 703 filled MHO posts in 2019.
  • There were 27 fewer filled MHO posts in 2019 than in 2018, which is equivalent to a drop of 3.7%.
  • The percentage drop in estimated MHO hours worked was 2.3%.
  • Exclusive MHOs fell by 2.2 %, non-exclusive MHOs fell by 2.1% and cover MHOs by 18.3%.
  • The number of exclusive MHOs unavailable for work increased from 18 to 30.
  • The fall from 2016 in the estimated amount of time spent by MHOs on MHO work in Scotland is more than 9%.
  • The estimated amount of MHO hours worked per 10,000 head of population in Scotland has decreased from 22.9 in 2016 to 20.5 in 2019.
  • Between December 2018 and December 2019 staff left 94 MHO posts, this is more than the 87 in 2018. Over the last two years there has been the highest number of leavers since we started recording leavers in 2012. The next highest was 62 in 2014.

Our role supporting MHOs

We approve and quality assure the three university MHO programmes in Scotland, which includes feedback from people who use mental health services to inform improvements in the delivery of MHO education and practice.

We also work in partnership with the national MHO forum, Social Work Scotland and the Scottish Association of Social Workers to develop resources to support practice including learning in relation to new mental health legislation and the annual MHO study day.

You can download the 2019 Mental Health Officers Report here.

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council