Funding will go to marginalised groups and communities as well as those most affected by covid
A £500,000 investment for projects in Scotland has been announced as part of the Mental Health Foundation’s £2 million UK-wide Covid Response Programme.
The funding is to support the mental health of people hardest hit by the pandemic.
In partnership with organisations and charities across the UK, the Covid Response Programme will help deliver practical mental health support to people whose experience of inequalities before and during the pandemic has left them most in need of support as the pandemic continues and, hopefully, passes.
This includes people living with long term health conditions, people who are lone parents, people from Black or minority ethnic communities, people living with Long Covid, and people who are refugees.
In Scotland, people who are living with long term health conditions will be supported by the Living Well: Emotional Support Matters project; a joint venture from the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland. Each organisation is contributing £250,000 to support eight charities which work with people across Scotland who are living with long term health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, MS, and arthritis.
Julie Cameron, associate director at Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, said: “Our £2 million UK-wide Covid Response Programme, which includes over £500,000 in Scotland, is designed to alleviate some of the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic among the groups of people who have been hit hardest.
“However, we and our colleagues across the charity sector cannot solve these problems on our own. We welcome the ambitions set out in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government to reduce inequalities and create a Scotland where all can flourish. We encourage continued investment to improve wellbeing, and achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
“We also urge the UK government to think again in the run-up to the Spending Review announcements at the end of the month, and to prevent further inequality by reinstating the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit.
"Financial insecurity, poverty and debt pose significant risks to people’s mental health, and the evidence is clear that withdrawing the uplift will increase family and child poverty and mental distress.
“Quite apart from the human cost to those affected, it is surely a false economy to increase levels of poor mental health at a time when mental health needs are already greater than the support and services available to respond to them.”
The Mental Health Foundation’s ongoing study of the mental health impacts of the pandemic in Scotland has consistently shown that some groups have been particularly hard hit.
People within these groups, including people living with long term health conditions, are significantly more likely than the general Scottish population to say they feel anxious, lonely or hopeless because of the pandemic and to say they have not coped well with the stress of the situation.
For the Living Well: Emotional Support Matters project, the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland is working with charity partners: SISG Enterprises Ltd, The Braveheart Association, Versus Arthritis, Diabetes Scotland, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Waverley Care, Clan Cancer Support and MS Mid Argyll.
Ian Welsh, chief executive of Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, said: “It has long been known that living with long term conditions can, and often does, have a serious impact on people’s emotional health and wellbeing.
“This has been further exacerbated during the pandemic as people have experienced disruption in healthcare supports, increased isolation, and felt significant concerns for both themselves and loved ones.”
“As we learn to live with and recover from COVID-19 supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of people living with long term conditions must be prioritised.”
“Recognising this necessity, we are pleased to be working with eight partner organisations on Living Well: Emotional Support Matters, as part of our wider self-management investment, to contribute to the creation of a Scotland where people living with long term conditions can thrive physically, mentally and emotionally.”