The National Rural Mental Health Forum has been awarded £50,000 to champion change in rural people’s mental wellbeing.

The funding will be used to improve how the Forum delivers mental health support services by challenging stigma, encouraging help-seeking, promoting knowledge exchange, and further supporting community-led mental wellbeing.

Announcing the funding Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "The rural economy is only as healthy as the individuals and communities who help to drive it forward. That is why the provision of practical advice around maintaining good mental health is vital, particularly given the need to support those living and working in our rural communities during the uncertainty of Brexit.

"For this reason, I am pleased to announce a further £50,000 to help the National Rural Mental Health Forum provide on the ground collaborative and advice to those in need.”

Making the announcement to the National Rural Mental Health Forum at Ingliston House yesterday (Thursday, 17 May), Mr Ewing added: "The role of rural communities in helping support each other cannot be underestimated. As Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity I welcome the new Well Connected Communities report of 11 May from Support in Mind Scotland. This  highlights the importance of creating spaces which allow people to engage with and feel part of the community – not separate from it.

"The proposed further development of the Rural Wellbeing website will be an important action of the Forum. Progress now lies with how well we continue the collaboration across rural Scotland – This is your voice, your opportunity and your forum – so please use it well."

Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “As the first dedicated Minister for Mental Health in Scotland, I am proud of the progress and achievements made since the Government published the Mental Health Strategy in March last year. However, I recognise that there is a long way to go and Government can’t achieve a sea change in mental health alone. The Strategy underpins how we will work in partnership with others to champion the better Scotland our people deserve. 

An example of that in practice is of course, the National Rural Mental Health Forum.  I am delighted that membership is continuing to grow; you all -  Support in Mind, the many rural partners and of course the Convenor of the Forum, Jim Hume - are to be congratulated on your collaborative effort in developing the Forum to ensure that it will continue to positively influence the lives of those living in remote and rural areas.

"By bringing together multiple organisations and developing connections, the Forum has helped allow the rural experience to be reflected better in policy and emerging strategies, most recently by submitting a collective response to the Isolation and Loneliness Consultation.

"In the coming year, members must continue to work collaboratively, build on existing expertise, identify areas for improvement, take ownership of actions agreed by the Forum – all of these things will make a real positive difference to the individuals living with mental ill health in rural areas.

"It is the support, guidance and action of everyone here that will achieve the vision set out in the Strategy. It’s the work we do together that will make the difference.

"That is why I am delighted to be here today to announce the Scottish Government’s commitment to fund the work of the National Rural Mental Health Forum for another year. The funding demonstrates the cross-cutting nature of the work of the Forum and crucially that Scottish Government recognises that mental health affects everyone. I look forward to hearing more about the progress of the Forum as the year goes on."

Convener Jim Hume said: “The Forum, which consists of 50 organisations across rural Scotland, welcomes the Scottish Government support. This will make a real difference in raising awareness, tackling the stigma, informing policy and developing community support for those who struggle with poor mental health in rural Scotland.”