Scots with chronic health conditions to benefit from mental health funding boost

People with long-term health conditions are being given a share of a £2 million Mental Health Foundation scheme to support people worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cash is funding the Covid Response Programme that will provide practical mental health support to those most in need.

In Scotland, £500m is going to charities helping people living with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

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The Mental Health Foundation in Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance are each contributing £250,000 to support eight charities through the Living Well: Emotional Support Matters project.

The pandemic has seen people suffer increased isolation, for example. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

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People with long-term health conditions in Scotland were more likely to be anxious due to Covid-19 than the general population, the foundation’s most recent survey on the mental health impacts of the pandemic found.

The online study questioned 2,020 adults in Scotland last month, and found two thirds of those with a chronic health issue were “very” or “fairly” anxious about the lifting of restrictions, compared with half of all Scottish adults.

Professor Ian Welsh, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, said: “It has long been known that living with long-term conditions can, and often does, have a serious impact on people’s emotional health and wellbeing.

“This has been further exacerbated during the pandemic as people have experienced disruption in healthcare supports, increased isolation, and felt significant concerns for both themselves and loved ones.

“As we learn to live with and recover from Covid-19, supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of people living with long-term conditions must be prioritised.”

He said the project recognises this and will “contribute to the creation of a Scotland where people living with long-term conditions can thrive physically, mentally and emotionally”.

Diabetes Scotland, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Waverley Care, Clan Cancer Support, Versus Arthritis, SISG Enterprises, the Braveheart Association and MS Mid Argyll are the charities being funded through the project to deliver support including practical training, group sessions and individual advice and counselling.

Alleviate

Julie Cameron, Mental Health Foundation in Scotland associate director, said: “Our £2m UK-wide Covid Response Programme, which includes over £500,000 in Scotland, is designed to alleviate some of the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic among the groups of people who have been hit hardest.

“However, we and our colleagues across the charity sector cannot solve these problems on our own.”

She praised the Scottish Government’s plans to reduce inequalities and urged the UK Government to reinstate the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift.

Developments come as World Mental Health Day takes place today. This year’s theme is Mental Health in an Unequal World, aiming to address the deepening inequalities in our society.

It will look at these inequalities suffered due to factors such as poverty, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and human rights violations. The theme also aims to highlight how access to mental health services remains unequal.

According to the World Federation for Mental Health, between 75 and 95 per cent of people with mental disorders in low and middle-income countries are unable to access mental health services at all.

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