Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey praised the "fantastic work" of the National Rural Mental Health Forum during general questions in the Scottish Parliament.

The Forum, which was formed following research conducted by Support in Mind Scotland and SRUC (Scotland's Rural College), has flourished since it was established last year, and now has 60 member organisations signed up. The Forum - convened by  Jim Hume - was formed to help develop connections between communities across rural Scotland, so that isolated people can receive support when and where they need it.

The issue of rural mental health was raised in Holyrood by South Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish who asked the Scottish Government "what its strategy is for tackling mental health issues in rural areas" of the country.

The Minister responded: "Action 12 in the Mental Health Strategy: 2017-2027 outlines our commitment to supporting the development of the national rural mental health forum. The forum was established in 2017 and, through Scottish Government funding, it helps people in rural areas to maintain good mental health and wellbeing.

"The forum also develops connections between communities across rural Scotland to reflect the unique challenges that are presented by rural isolation. Membership has grown from 16 to 60 organisations, with the forum meeting quarterly to discuss outcomes such as how people in rural communities can overcome barriers to accessing and seeking mental health support."

The forum has done some fantastic work and it is now the national network for driving change rurally.

Clare Haughey, Mental Health Minister

Claudia Beamish replied: "I thank the minister for that encouraging answer, and I welcome action 12. The forum’s increased membership is evidence of demand and need.

"The forum is making a difference in tackling mental ill health in the unique context of rural Scotland, where around a million Scots live and where deprivation is hidden. I recently held an event for local employers in my region to highlight the help and support that the forum can provide. Will the minister continue to work with the forum throughout the lifetime of the Government’s mental health strategy?"

Ms Haughey told the Parliament: "Government funding for the forum covers the financial year 2018-19, and the 2019-20 spending review process is on-going. I certainly recognise the work of the forum under its chair, Jim Hume. The forum has done some fantastic work and it is now the national network for driving change rurally."