A new strategy designed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in Scotland was launched by Minister for Public Health Minister Michael Matheson, this month.
It sets out 36 key commitments to be delivered between now and 2015 to deliver faster access to mental health services for younger people, faster access to psychological therapies, work to reduce and prevent suicide and addressing stigma and discrimination.
There is a strong focus throughout the strategy on actions that people can take for themselves and with their communities to maintain and improve their own health.
Other commitments include working more effectively with families and carers and improving links between work on alcohol and depression to improve identification and treatment.
Mr Matheson said: “Mental illness is one of the top public health challenges in Europe. In Scotland we are proud of what we have already achieved in promoting rights and recovery, addressing stigma and improving outcomes for people who use services and their carers – ensuring people receive more effective, quality care and treatment, more quickly than ever before.
“We must now increase the pace of change and focus on delivering improvements which we believe will have the maximum possible impact across the whole population.
“We will work with our partners across the NHS and local authorities; the Third Sector and service users and carers to deliver on our ambitions and ensure our mental health services remain world leading.”
Joyce Mouriki, Chair of VOX, the national mental health service user organisation, said: “VOX are delighted that the new mental health strategy includes a number of commitments that our members identified during our joint consultation with the Government and have been keen to see progressed – such as faster access to psychological therapies, crises response, peer support, social prescribing, and employment. We hope very much that the strategy will improve the lives of those who experience mental health problems, and look forward to our continued involvement in the process of making positive change.”
Isabella Goldie, Head of Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, commented:“The Mental Health Foundation welcomes the renewed commitment to mental health that the Scottish government’s mental health strategy brings, particularly in these difficult economic times for Scotland.
"This strategy provides a strong lead which combines mental health promotion, prevention of mental health problems and some clear actions to improve the quality of life for people with mental health problems. We particularly welcome the commitment to undertake a comprehensive 10 year follow-up on the review of the state of mental health services in Scotland, as previously undertaken by our colleague Dr Sandra Grant."
"The aim to improve access to proportionate levels of support for people with common mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, through access to self-management courses and psychological services, is a key component to improving public mental health."
"In recognising the impact on emotional wellbeing of living with a long term condition and the role of parenting, this strategy has the potential to have a real impact on the ground, especially with its commitment to innovation through the focus on technology in supporting mental health."
"However the impact of mental health stretches beyond the scope of any single mental health organisation or department and the strategy must act as a catalyst to prompt all Government Departments to take on board the need to embed mental health improvement actions across all public services.”