Work underway on rural mental health project

Ros Halley (Community Connections Manager) and Marion Elkin-Greener (Community Development Officer) and the film crew Prancing Jack Productions on Mull
Photo shows Ros Halley (Community Connections Manager) and Marion Elkin-Greener (Community Development Officer) and the film crew Prancing Jack Productions on Mull

Update from Highlands & Islands Connections project

Earlier this year we reported on a new rural mental health project – Highlands & Islands Connections. In this article we get an update on work that’s happening in two pilot locations.

The Highlands & Islands Connections project was started by the national mental health charity Support in Mind Scotland and work is underway in two pilot areas – the Uists and Benbecula, and the Isle of Mull.

Highlands & Islands Connections is all about exploring how to strengthen community connections to make a positive difference to the mental wellbeing of people living in rural areas. The project works with the National Rural Mental Health Forum and is funded through the Scottish Government’s Aspiring Communities Fund, with support from the European Social Fund.

The pilot locations are testing out different approaches to developing a “community of care". In the Uists and Benbecula the focus is on developing links between existing organisations and improving communications across the rural area and the team have already started work on developing a digital app that will help people to connect and engage more often in community activities.

On the Isle of Mull, the focus is on exploring different ways that businesses can engage with employees to improve community connections and improve mental wellbeing. Already eight organisations have signed up to working with the team to explore novel ways to improve the mental well-being of their employees!

Each pilot area is supported by an Area Project Team and the overall initiative is coordinated by Ros Halley, Highlands & Islands Community Connections Manager. Ros explained how she hopes the project will make a real difference to those participating:

“We have a great opportunity to use this project as a catalyst for change by creating a new sort of conversation. Through our actions we want to be able to identify simple ways that mental wellbeing can be improved. By working in partnership with local partners, the project aims to help to build better informed, more compassionate communities!”

The project is being documented on film throughout 2019 and the evidence gathered will be used to guide future mental wellbeing policy and rural policy and the team hope that similar initiatives may be able to be rolled out in other locations across Scotland in the future.

For more information on the project go to New mental health project to strengthen community connections

Follow @HIConnections on Twitter or join the Highlands & Islands Connections Facebook group for more information and updates.