People with long-term health conditions are being given a share of a £2m Mental Health Foundation scheme to support people worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The cash is funding the Covid Response Programme which will provide practical mental health support to those most in need.
In Scotland, £500m is going to charities helping people living with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.
The Mental Health Foundation in Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance are each contributing £250,000 to support eight charities through the Living Well: Emotional Support Matters project.
People with long-term health conditions in Scotland were more likely to be anxious due to the pandemic than the general population, the foundation’s most recent survey on the mental health impacts of the pandemic found.
The online study questioned 2020 adults in Scotland last month and found two-thirds (66%) of those with a chronic health issue were “very” or “fairly” anxious about the lifting of restrictions, compared with half (50%) of all Scottish adults.
Professor Ian Welsh, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland chief executive, said: “It has long been known that living with long-term conditions can, and often does, have a serious impact on people’s emotional health and wellbeing.
“This has been further exacerbated during the pandemic as people have experienced disruption in healthcare supports, increased isolation, and felt significant concerns for both themselves and loved ones.
“As we learn to live with and recover from Covid-19, supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of people living with long-term conditions must be prioritised.”
He said the project recognises this and will “contribute to the creation of a Scotland where people living with long-term conditions can thrive physically, mentally and emotionally”.
Diabetes Scotland, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Waverley Care, Clan Cancer Support, Versus Arthritis, SISG Enterprises, the Braveheart Association and MS Mid Argyll are the charities being funded through the project to deliver support including practical training, group sessions and individual advice and counselling.
Julie Cameron, Mental Health Foundation in Scotland associate director, said: “Our £2m UK-wide Covid Response Programme, which includes over £500,000 in Scotland, is designed to alleviate some of the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic among the groups of people who have been hit hardest.
“However, we and our colleagues across the charity sector cannot solve these problems on our own.”
She praised the Scottish Government’s plans to reduce inequalities and urged the UK Government to reinstate the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit.