Scotland’s next first minister needs to redouble efforts to tackle the cost of living crisis in a bid to deal with the “mental health emergency” the country is facing, campaigners have warned.
The Mental Health Foundation in Scotland issued the plea as SNP members consider who their new leader – and the country’s next first minister – should be.
It comes in the wake of research for the foundation which highlighted the impact the surging cost of living could have on mental health services.
A poll by Opinium in November found more than half of Scots (52%) were worried about not being able to afford food and almost two-thirds (65%) were concerned about paying their monthly household bills.
More than two-fifths (43%) of Scots were worried about not being able to make their rent or mortgage payments.
As the SNP leadership campaign continues, Shari McDaid, head of policy and evidence at the foundation, stressed the importance of action to “tackle the root causes of poor mental health, including poverty and inequality”.
She also insisted that whoever succeeds Nicola Sturgeon should seek to ensure all government decisions are assessed for their impact on public mental health.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan are all vying to for the job.
Ms McDaid said: “The next first minister of Scotland must be ready to take on the current public mental health emergency, inflamed by the cost-of-living crisis, on their first day in office.
“This means clear actions that will tackle the root causes of poor mental health, including poverty and inequality.
“It means redoubling efforts to mitigate the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis, preventing financial stress by increasing income support and advice, increasing funding to safeguard community organisations and facilities, and ensuring that frontline workers are trained and empowered in trauma-informed service delivery and provide a compassionate response to people experiencing financial strain or poor mental health.
“As the old adage goes, ‘your health is your wealth’, so no potential leader can claim to have the strategy to deliver prosperity without ensuring that every government decision is assessed in terms of its impact on public mental health.
“There is no better measure to determine the success of a nation than the mental health and wellbeing of its people.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country