Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Scotland 2022

Location: Scotland

Our recommendations for the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Scotland

The Scottish Government is preparing to write a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Scotland. It has asked the public to share their ideas on what actions should be included.

Why we are making recommendations to the Scottish Government’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy?

Our mental health is shaped by our environments and experiences. This includes things we may have little control over, such as job security, housing, how much money we have and the facilities and services available to us in our communities.

To prevent poor mental health, we need our governments to take bold action to give people the best opportunity to thrive and live mentally healthy lives.

What are we asking for?

Our full response has over 40 recommendations across many different policy areas, with our summary focusing on three broad areas.

Cover of Scotland Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy report

Our three focus areas:

What does this mean?

Our mental health is affected by every part of our lives. All government departments, not just Health, should consider how their policies will impact our mental health.

The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy should make sure there are:

‘Mental health in all policies’

All government decisions across all government departments - including housing, economy, education and justice - should consider how people’s mental health will be affected. To make sure this happens, we need new formal processes for sharing best practices and tracking progress in each department. A ‘Mental Health in All Policies Forum’ should be set up with representation from every Scottish Government department.

Investment in prevention

There is good evidence for the cost-effectiveness of prevention in mental health, and the Scottish Government has a vision for an economy which prioritises the wellbeing of current and future generations. However, we don’t currently know how much the Scottish Government spends on preventing mental health problems. We need to be clear on how public spending supports good mental health.

Lived experience expertise

Governments should not make decisions that affect people without first speaking to them about their needs. ‘No decisions about us, without us’ applies.

This approach should become a norm in the Scottish Government’s policy-making process, where diverse lived experience is drawn upon to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of policies. We’re pleased to be a part of this as we support the Diverse Experiences Advisory Panel (DEAP) and VOX (Voices of eXperience).

What does this mean?

Mental health problems of all kinds can be prevented. When we talk about the whole population, we mean that every person living in Scotland can be supported to live well with good mental health.

In our response to the Scottish Government, we highlighted the following areas that require specific attention and support:

What does this mean?

The risks of mental ill-health are not equally distributed across the population. People who face the most significant disadvantages in life also face the greatest risks to their mental health. This unequal distribution of risk to our mental health is what we call mental health inequalities. That’s why we need government action to address inequality and remove the social barriers to good mental health.

To understand more, read our report, ‘Tackling social inequalities to reduce mental health problems’, which explains how inequalities contribute to poor mental health in the UK today.

In preparing our response to the Scottish Government, we worked with people and organisations working in communities at increased risk of poor mental health. Together, we have made recommendations to support people at higher risk of poor mental health due to:

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