Patients in Scotland who have been referred for mental health treatment are going private because of long NHS waits, it has been claimed.
Figures suggest around 16,000 people a year wait for more than 18 weeks for NHS treatment.
Labour MSP Monica Lennon said several of her constituents have sought out private mental health counselling to avoid waiting lists.
But in response to a parliamentary question about the number of people who have gone private, Nats Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said government chiefs do not know because they do not collect data.
“Desperate constituents have told me they’ve relied on family to help them pay for private therapy,” said Lennon. “I’m calling on the new SNP Minister for Mental Health to instruct her officials to urgently review this nationally.”
According to the Scottish Sun, she warned that poor mental health can have a serious impact on personal finance.
A separate parliamentary question revealed an average of 3,700 patients per quarter who were seen for psychological therapies had waited longer than 18 weeks.
Official statistics showed 3,581 waited over 18 weeks between October and December last year, 3,389 between January and March, and 4,089 in the period between April and June.
A Scottish Government spokesman said the average wait in the last quarter was seven weeks, but some people are waiting far too long.
“This does not mean that they are not receiving other mental health support,” he added.