It is World Mental Health Day this week and I am very pleased that this important aspect of our wellbeing is being fully recognised and marked across the UK and internationally, acknowledging parity of esteem with physical health.
I worked in mental health services in Scotland for twenty years prior to being elected as your MP and it has been an absolute privilege to utilise this knowledge and experience to benefit policy development nationally in my role as SNP Mental Health Spokesperson and as Chair of the Health All Party Group in Parliament during Covid19.
Mental Health needs are now more crucial than ever, including addressing the stress and trauma experienced by frontline staff during the pandemic, the impact on young people’s mental health coping with adjustment from education and social interactions, and the devastating impact on so many families who have lost loved ones including many older adults within our care homes and across our communities.
The mental health impacts of Covid-19 are likely to persist long after the physical health elements have been addressed. There is now a backlog of patients of all ages requiring access to services who may not have been able to access treatment within the pandemic or who did not seek mental health referral due to Covid19.
It is vital that mental health champions continue to speak up in Parliament and that Government recognise the crucial need to prioritise and fund these vital services.
The theme of this years World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’ as Covid19 has exacerbated inequalities across our society. The Mental Health Foundation’s study of the impact of the pandemic has consistently shown that some groups have been harder hit including those living with long-term health conditions who are more likely to feel anxious, lonely or hopeless and to have suffered increased stress. The proportion of young people aged 18-24 years reporting suicidal thoughts or feelings was also found to be 15%, higher than then Scottish population as a whole (at 11%).
I am pleased therefore that across Scotland, people living with long term health conditions will now be supported by additional funding from the Living Well: Emotional Support Matters Project, a joint venture from the Mental Health Foundation and the Health and Care Alliance Scotland. Each organisation is contributing £250,000 to support eight charities working with people who are struggling with long term health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, MS and arthritis.
If you require any support to access services across our constituency please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to assist you in getting the help you need. You can alternatively call me on 01357520879 or drop into my dedicated Strathaven MPs office at 32 Waterside Street which is open Monday to Friday for any local or national issue of importance.
This World Mental Health Day and beyond, please remember that it is ‘okay not to feel okay’ and to ensure to seek help and support wherever needed.