By Emma Raeburn Anderson
This week (10 May – 16 May 2021) is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and it is a great time to put our focus back onto our mental wellbeing.
However, we need more than awareness.
Scotland’s Mental Health Partnership, which is a group of 17 organisations, have called for an increase in funding for mental health and wellbeing.
The latest government figures revealed that nearly a third of Scots are “reporting high levels of psychological stress” which has been largely fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having been diagnosed with anxiety and depression since I was 14, I still have daily struggles nearly 10 years on.
While my conditions have become manageable through the help of private counselling prior to Coronavirus, it has not been entirely removed.
The pandemic has caused for many places to close throughout lockdown, including counselling services.
This caused some issues for myself, and others, who were missing their regular appointments and felt even more isolated during lockdown.
There was then the distress when I realised I could sit in a pub with friends before I could have an in person session with my counsellor.
On the top of that, not everyone can afford private treatment which means a lengthy waiting list for NHS mental health services.
Rebecca Lockwood, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy and Coach Trainer, tells me: “[Mental health services] need to be made more accessible, and [it should be] more normal to talk about mental health in a positive and a negative way.
“There has been a decline in mental health and wellbeing all round because of the pandemic.
“People have been immersed in the news to keep up, which in itself programs the brain to notice more of the bad news in their reality.
“People haven’t been able to fulfil their values and the things that are important to them, meaning that they have been left feeling unsatisfied in life.”
The Scottish Government’s mental health tracker revealed that there was a 3.7% increase of suicidal thoughts between the first and second wave of Covid.
There are also approximately 23% of men who have reported depressive symptoms by wave two, which is an increase of almost 4% since the first wave.
With numbers on the rise, more money needs to be put into mental health before Scot’s wellbeing decreases any further.
Mental Health Foundation studies revealed: “Young adults were more likely to report stress arising from the pandemic than the population as a whole.
“Findings from the third week in June show that 18-24 year olds were still more likely than any other age group to report loneliness, not coping well and suicidal thoughts/feelings:
“Furthermore, the proportion of young people age 18-24 reporting suicidal thoughts or feelings, at 15%, was higher than that of the Scottish population as a whole, at 11%.”
Louise Bell, 27, says: “There absolutely needs to be more funding put into mental health.
“More counsellors and therapists need to be hired to help make a dent on the huge waiting lists.
“I think schools or local authorities should have a mental health nurse/counsellor that [children] can go speak to in confidence without feeling embarrassed unless concern for welfare and then parents can be informed.”
The pandemic is having negative effects on an already worrisome poor mental health trend, and more needs to be in place to help ensure peoples mental health is properly taken care of and give everyone a safe space to talk.
Showing awareness is a positive first step but it cannot end there.