THE work of two key projects for Support in Mind Scotland - the National Rural Mental Health Forum and the Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme - was discussed in the Scottish Parliament as Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey updated MSPs on the progress of the Scottish Government's Mental Health strategy.

Ms Haughey told Parliament: "Our 10-year mental health strategy, from 2017 to 2027, paints a clear picture of the kind of Scotland in which I want to live: a Scotland where people can get the right help at the right time, expect recovery and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma.

"The strategy’s guiding ambition is that we must prevent and treat mental health problems with the same commitment, passion and drive as we do physical health problems.

"I was honoured in June to be appointed as Minister for Mental Health to build on the work of my predecessor, Maureen Watt. Although I have been in post for only a short time, I know from my experience as a mental health nurse the commitment and dedication of the people who make a difference in mental health care every day across Scotland."

After the minister's statement in the chamber at Holyrood, Emma Harper, MSP for South Scotland, asked: "I welcome the minister’s statement. Can she give a commitment that the Scottish Government will continue to engage with organisations such as the national rural mental health forum and the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution to ensure that we can further explore the options to tackle social isolation and loneliness in rural parts of Scotland?"

The Minister, pictured above, responded: "The National Rural Mental Health forum has been established to help people in rural areas maintain good health and wellbeing. The forum will help to develop connections between communities across rural Scotland so that isolated people can receive support when and where they need it.

"The forum has been provided with £50,000 of funding in this financial year—funding that was jointly provided by the mental health and rural portfolios, which demonstrates the cross-cutting nature of the forum’s work. Since 2016, membership of the forum has grown from 16 to 60.

"The forum has agreed to deliver three outcomes: a much-improved understanding of the unmet need for mental health support in rural Scotland; evidence of how to better overcome barriers to accessing and seeking support, therefore enhancing people’s mental wellbeing in rural Scotland; and better-informed rural and health policy due to specific evidence and support from forum members.”

The Scottish Government's first progress report of its ten-year Mental Health Strategy (2017-2027), also provided an update on the work of the DBI pilot programme, which Support in Mind Scotland has been providing in Inverness since it was launched there in November 2017. More than 1,000 people have now been helped by the DBI pilot across four areas in Scotland.

The progress report revealed that 13 of the strategy’s 40 actions are either complete or nearly complete, and another 26 are underway.

  • Main image: © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body