In Scotland, 'Mental Health' is so much more than just a buzzword. Don't believe us? Well check out some of the amazing work we are doing in this field!

Good mental health should be a priority for each and every one of us, which is why we’re committed to combatting the mental health issues of our people and challenging all mental health stigmas. We want to ensure we're a country where everyone can share their problems in a safe and judgement-free environment.

Impact of coronavirus

The emergence of coronavirus is undoubtedly one of the biggest global challenges we’ve faced for generations. That’s why, in confronting the threat posed by this disease, we’re determined to do all that we can to ensure that no one in Scotland is forgotten or left behind.

With so many people across the country, and the world, dealing with the health, economic and social impacts of this challenging period, it’s more important than ever to prioritise wellbeing and promote good mental health where possible. With that in mind, Scotland has put in place a number of measures aimed at tackling this very issue.

We recently launched a new National Wellbeing Hub for the entire health and social care workforce – a first of its kind in the UK. This hub not only provides advice on self-care, but also promotes emotional and psychological wellbeing, addresses practical concerns and provides access to a bespoke digital coaching service to support the health, wellbeing and resilience of those on the frontlines.

Away from the frontlines, a brand new campaign called ‘Clear Your Head’ was launched to help the people of Scotland deal with the mental health impacts of coronavirus. This innovative campaign helps highlight practical ways to look after your mental health and wellbeing while continuing to stay at home and signposts sources of help and advice.

No small measures

Even before the impact of coronavirus, mental health was a topic that had become increasingly talked about more generally over the last few years - but it's so much more than just another buzzword. As the world starts to wake up to the benefits of self-care, it's become clearer than ever that there is no such thing as a small mental health issue.

That’s why we are dedicated to bettering everyone’s mental health, ensuring that Scotland continues to be a great place to live, work, study, visit or do business in. We wanted to share with you just a few of the other projects and initiatives in place right through Scotland dedicated to tackling mental health.

A family cycling in the countryside.

Looking after our youth

In order to ensure good mental health in Scotland’s adults we start with our children and young people. Through a range of initiatives, we make sure that children feel comfortable talking to someone in their life about any problems they might have and ensuring that this sentiment stays with them right into adulthood.

In 2018, the Scottish government launched a new taskforce focused on the mental health of children and young people. As well as consulting with Scotland’s young people and their families, the taskforce also worked with agencies and practitioners to build a set of priorities aimed at tackling mental health issues in our youth.

Just this year, final recommendations were made by the task force, which called for actions including;

  • A joint commitment from Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Government on a Scotland-wide commitment to children and young people’s mental health.
  • Future investments focusing on prevention and early intervention as this is vital to improving outcomes.
  • Innovations in community support, such as pathfinders to discover the most effective approaches to community-based support.
A group of people sitting in a pub.

Peer support

Scotland has also allocated funds to create a digital peer support service to help young people with an eating disorder by increasing the personalised support available to them. The support service also aims to reduce the sense of isolation felt by those who suffer from these disorders, as well as their parents and carers.

The Peer Support Service has already proven to be a success, so much so that it was relaunched for a further three years during the 2019 Eating Disorder Awareness Week. With the relaunch, came a telephone coaching service for parents and carers as well as the creation of the CARED website which is aimed at parents and carers whose loved ones have recently started treatment.

The site also contains skills-based video tutorials, links to resources as well as hints and tips from recovering young people, professionals and other parents and carers.

Two women working in a woodwork shop.

Feels FM: A playlist full of progress

Feels FM is an innovative and highly successful campaign that initially ran during the 2018 Year of Young People. Feels FM is aimed at starting a conversation with young people about their mental health. Developed by See Me, Feels FM used the world’s first emoji powered jukebox where participants selected an emoji which then generated a playlist of music that corresponded to that mood.

Throughout its initial run, the campaign had 32,000 unique visitors to the website with nearly 5000 young people responding to the interactive questions asking what mental health means to them. As a result, Feels FM is the biggest conversation Scotland has ever had on young people’s mental health.

Off the back of this, we committed to creating an environment where all young people can trust an adult to listen sympathetically, appropriately and without judgement. We also committed to providing young people the tools and mental health literacy to be able to describe how they feel.

Feels FM is a great example of Scotland listening to young people’s views and acting accordingly. More actions like this can be taken to reduce stigma surrounding mental health and open-up the conversation between children, young people and adults.

A family walking down Edinburgh's Victoria Street.

New mothers

Pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby should be the most joyful and exciting time for any new mum, but sadly for around one in five, the attendant stress and worry will lead to a perinatal mental illness. However, now in a further commitment to support new and expectant mothers, the Scottish Government announced its plan to invest over £50million in improving their access to mental health services.

The new money will provide access to treatment for an additional 11,000 patients who experience mental health problems during and after their pregnancy – this includes new fathers who can also be affected following the birth of a new baby.

The initiative is part of the Scottish Government’s ongoing 10-year Mental Health Strategy, which has set out 40 actions to improve access to services and ensure people get help earlier.

Walkers out in Scotland's mountainous countryside.

Further support

Many adults struggle to find time for themselves when it comes to looking after their own mental health. As a result, the Scottish Government’s support for adults is also improving with the use of technology providing access to a range of support, including improvements to the NHS24 Breathing Space service.

Extending online access to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also on the agenda which will hopefully improve access to psychological assessment and therapy in rural areas. Scotland’s programme for government shows a clear emphasis on improving access to mental health resources and means of improvement.

Scotland isn’t a country to do things by half and with these initiatives and recommendations in place, the hope is that the conversation around mental health will be opened up enough to encourage people to talk about and seek help for any mental health problems they might be experiencing.