A national programme aimed at ending mental health stigma and discrimination has been awarded £5m in funding for the next five years.
The investment will allow ‘See Me‘ to carry on its work as part of a wider response to the mental health impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
It has been announced alongside a new strategy, ‘With Fairness in Mind’, which will run up until 2026.
The strategy seeks to help tackle deep-rooted stigma and discrimination directly affecting those experiencing mental health problems in Scotland.
Mental wellbeing minister Kevin Stewart said it has never been a more important time to look after mental health.
“We know that the pandemic has had a substantial impact on the mental health of the population, and is likely to continue to do so,” he said.
“It has never been more important to look after our mental health. That is why we are working to create a Scotland where people can get the right help at the right time, and to fully enjoy their rights, free from stigma and discrimination.”
Stewart added: “Tackling stigma is crucial to mental health improvement, because of the barriers it presents for recovery, prevention and early intervention.
“Reducing stigma creates the best conditions for positive mental wellbeing, enabling more people to access the support, care and treatment they need.”
Wendy Halliday, See Me director, outlined the importance of the continued funding.
“Stigma and discrimination can have a devastating impact on the lives of people with mental health problems,” she said.
“It can stop people from getting the right help and support, it can cause people to lose their jobs, it can leave people isolated and, for young people, they can find themselves being judged and dismissed when trying to reach out.
“That’s why the launch of our new five-year strategy, With Fairness in Mind, and the continued investment in the See Me Programme from the Scottish Government is so important.”
Halliday also explained that changing the way support and treatment is thought about is “essential” to any action to improve mental health.
She continued: “There must be this ongoing commitment to ending the deep rooted stigma that exists in Scottish society, especially in workplaces, education, health and social care and communities.
“At See Me we want to see a change in the way support and treatment for mental health is thought about, so tackling stigma and discrimination, and addressing the barriers they create, is seen as essential to any action to improve mental health.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said that there must also be investment in mental health treatment.
“Reducing stigma while completely failing to resource the care and treatment that people who struggle need is yet another example of the SNP’s half-hearted work to improve Scotland’s mental health,” he said.
“Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of additional mental health spending will be required to end year long waits for treatment and finally put mental health care on the same footing as physical health care.
“Unfortunately the SNP’s recent NHS recovery plan continues to treat mental health care as a second class service so the omens are not good.
“With so many children and adults still having to wait over a year for treatment, we need proper investment in services and a comprehensive plan to increase the workforce.”