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Coalition calls for sweeping changes to mental health and wellbeing

 

Scotland’s Mental Health Partnership has published its manifesto Promote, Prevent, Provide

Scotland’s leading mental health organisations have come together to demand sweeping changes to meet the needs of the nation in the post-Covid era.

With an ambitious vision of a future where good mental health and wellbeing can be enjoyed by all, Scotland’s Mental Health Partnership, a coalition of 17 organisations, is calling for a substantial increase in funding across mental health and wellbeing.

This comes as Scottish Government statistics revealed that 28.8% of Scots felt high levels of psychological stress. The second Scottish Covid-19 Mental Health Tracker Study report, released on 14 February , also revealed that suicidal thinking had been reported by 13.3% of respondents compared to 9.6% in the initial report from October 2020.

The partnership is therefore urging the next Scottish Government to invest in an approach that will: Promote better mental health and wellbeing for the whole population; Prevent mental ill-health in communities at highest risk; and Provide an appropriate choice of support, care and treatment for people experiencing severe mental ill health.

Covering mental health services, community based support and prevention initiatives, and the promotion of better wellbeing for everyone, the ambitious proposals for change are driven by the needs of people living with, and at risk of, mental ill health.

Angela McCrimmon, 43, from Livingston, said that if there was more promotion around mental health it would have made a huge difference in her life.

She said: “Everyone has mental health and it’s important to be able to pay attention to it before there’s a problem. If people around me had a better understanding it would have meant the fact I was struggling could have been identified sooner. When you look back, there were a lot of red flags.

“My friends accept me the way I am. But there was a significant period of misunderstanding and stigma from professionals and that was horrific. I was put into hospital, for instance, which would never have been a place of choice for me.”

Angela thinks that prevention and getting early help and support, free from stigma and discrimination, is key to recovery. She said: “For me, if they had prevented the crisis rather than waited for it, it would have avoided so much agony for everyone. For years I needed someone to catch me so I wouldn’t get to crisis. Where I would have otherwise have needed one service, I needed six instead.

“The longer you’re not in recovery, the harder it is to get there. The longer it goes on for you, the more you can lose the belief in yourself and don’t believe recovery is possible.

“Self-help keeps recovery at the forefront of the mind, but it’s a long process and it’s about recovery – not being recovered. The key point, though, was that I didn’t have to be ill all the time, and that I’m not the illness.”

Recently the support provided to Angela has been more person centred, and she has been able to have a say in her care, which has made a huge difference. She added: “My experiences of the mental health services in the last few years have been positive, but before it was negative. The thing that pushed the situation over the edge, eventually, was me being sectioned and I knew I had to fight back.

“Continuity has been a huge thing – setting up a care plan to see the same doctor for instance. It has to be the same person you’re seeing so you can build a relationship.

“The best support has been from my GP after my care plan was set up. That gave me the confidence to make the call when I needed to, and nine times out of ten she’s been able to call me back quickly.

“My GP is always the first port of call. People respond rather than react now, and I know I’m not going to face judgement.”

Lee Knifton, chair of Scotland’s Mental Health Partnership, said: “Mental health must be a key issue in this year’s Holyrood election. Our mental health sector has the ability to become world-leading; our government must match this expertise with a commitment to investing and supporting a radical overhaul of the prevention, support and treatment of mental ill-health and adopt a mental health in all policies approach.

“This is the time to be ambitious. Bold action now will help us to build a post-Covid Scotland where good mental health and wellbeing are enjoyed by all.”

Coinciding with the publication of its manifesto, the partnership has written to the leaders of all five main political parties in Scotland. Among its primary recommendations is that the increase in mental health funding be agreed within the first 100 days of the new Scottish Parliament. Further actions are demanded throughout the parliamentary term, including publishing a significantly refreshed Mental Health Strategy in 2022.

The Partnership is also calling for better support for young people moving into adulthood with a National Transitions Strategy. Additionally, it is seeking a new way of thinking to end stigma through promoting good mental health and wellbeing for the whole population, with special emphasis on groups who are at highest risk. And more action on equalities is needed to ensure that the needs of all Scots can be met.

The group also calls for the incoming Scottish Government to provide real choice from a full range of support and treatment for those with severe mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

You can read a summary here:

And the full manifesto can be accessed online.

 

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