THE Scottish Government has today (Friday 23 June) pledged another £25,000 of support for Rural Wellbeing, the National Rural Mental Health Forum which brings together 30 rural and mental health organisations.

The Forum, run by Support in Mind Scotland, campaigns to raise awareness of mental health issues facing rural communities and was launched following initial Scottish Government support in April.

I know this [extra funding] will make a real difference to people in rural Scotland.
  • Minister for Mental Health Maureen Watt

Announcing fresh investment at the Royal Highland Show, Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt said: “I’m really pleased to be here to help launch this campaign and to announce a further £25,000 of support from the Scottish Government for the work of the National Rural Mental Health Forum.

“We know that people in rural communities can feel isolated, and the Forum can help them maintain good mental health and wellbeing by developing connections and accessing support where they need it.

“More specifically, this extra funding will allow the Forum to directly inform the Isolation Strategy and the action plan implementing our new ten-year mental health strategy. I know it will make a real difference to people in rural Scotland.”

Around 200,000 people will visit the Royal Highland Show this year. We know that one in four people suffer from mental ill health in Scotland. That means that 50,000 of the Show’s visitors may suffer mental ill health at some point in their lives.

Rural areas are no different, with people facing unique challenges relating to  isolation, remoteness and stigma. Communities can be supportive for some, while others remain afraid to speak out about their mental ill health.

Due to Scottish Government support, Scotland now has a new and unique National Rural Mental Health Forum with around 30 organisations who are working together with the sole purpose of ensuring people in rural Scotland lead mentally healthy lives.  

Jim Hume, Convenor of the Forum (pictured above), said: “Through this unique and powerful partnership, we are able to reach into all the nooks and crannies of rural Scotland, north and south, east and west.

“By matching the dedication of these 30 organisations with Scottish Government funding, we are today launching a national campaign to raise awareness and reduce stigma, creating opportunities for people in rural areas to connect, talk about their mental health and move towards wellbeing.

“We are confident that this on-going investment for a further six months will enable the Forum to deliver change on the ground plus generate further evidence to inform policies that fit rural Scotland.”

"The national campaign launches at the Royal Highland Show and will continue throughout the summer, autumn and winter at various shows, gatherings and local meetings of the Forum members as they take the message and network with their stakeholders and partners throughout rural Scotland.

“This partnership is unprecedented and is already resulting in exchange of ideas to support people in rural Scotland who are experiencing mental ill health.

“The recent ground-breaking research, carried out by Scotland’s Rural College in partnership with Support in Mind Scotland, is being developed through bids for further research funds in Scotland, the UK and internationally, so that lessons can be learned about how to enhance rural Scotland’s wellbeing.”