Forum focuses on mental wellbeing of people in rural Scotland
In this guest blog, Jim Hume, Convener of the National Rural Mental Health Forum, tells us more about the forum and its work.
Even the Royal family are now open in talking about their mental health and that all helps to make it a normal conversation. We know that one in four Scots face mental health problems at some point in their life and recent research by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has shown that isolation and stigma can be more challenging in rural Scotland.
Following that research by SRUC, the National Rural Mental Health Forum has been set up. The Forum consists of organisations with expertise in mental health and organisations which have a good outreach into all parts of rural Scotland. The Forum is using its network to influence Government policy, already feeding into the new social security powers that Scotland shall gain and has influenced the new ten year mental health strategy.
The Forum had a prominent presence at the Royal Highland Show this year, where Scottish Government Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt MSP announced support for the Forum’s work, in cooperation with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing MSP. The Show gave the Forum a good platform to discuss with decision makers and the public some of the challenges that are faced in rural Scotland.
Challenges such as confiding in someone that your mental wellbeing may not be as good as you feel it should be, accessing services that may help, such as talking therapies, and reducing the stigma of being open about when you are unwell. Physical illness has no stigma, people are happy to state they have had a broken leg or appendicitis, there is no reason that we shouldn't be able to talk about when we have depression or anxiety. If untreated, mental illness can worsen with sometimes dire consequences. If noticed quickly and acted upon, then it is known that early intervention and prevention can stop many from their condition worsening and leads to many leading a full and healthy life.
The Forum is now starting to encourage rural organisations to look at 'mental health first aid' training their staff. This training raises your awareness on mental health issues, normalises talking about your wellbeing, gives you the confidence to tackle dealing with it and promotes that important early intervention. We all know it is too easy to be frightened to approach someone who may be facing a wellbeing crisis, mental health first aid training gives you the tools and confidence to intervene at an early stage and can prevent people reaching a crisis point.
Visit www.ruralwellbeing.org for more information on the Forum and how you can help.