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Making mental health a priority in an unequal world

Our Director Louise Christie outlines your views on addressing mental health in an unequal world.

It’s World Mental Health Day. The theme is Making Mental Health and Wellbeing a Global Priority for All. This could not be more important in these turbulent times as societies face increasing economic and social challenges.

FOR ALL is such an important part of this statement. How do we ensure good mental health for all in an unequal world? World Mental Health Day provides the opportunity to put additional focus on issues of inequality. It provides a chance for us to come together. A chance to highlight the barriers to good mental health and the actions needed to overcome them.

A Scottish perspective

In Scotland the development of a new Scottish Government Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy is underway. We are on the cusp of countless opportunities to really make ambitious changes to our mental health system. Changes that could address many of the inequalities in people’s lives, resulting in better mental health across the country. Changes that could ensure everyone can access the support they need, when they need it.

We asked people what they wanted from the new strategy. Taken from our A Chance for Change report here are a few of the outcomes people want to see.

Mental health challenges are more than just a health problem

People told us that we need to have an entire system approach. One that recognises the wider societal problems that affect people’s mental health. This includes stigma and discrimination, addiction, poverty, unemployment and other barriers affecting peoples’ lives. They highlighted that good mental health needs a wide range of accessible, cross sector and government services and support.

There needs to be more collaboration, a joined-up approach, partnerships.

Feedback from the A Chance for Change report

Choice, agency and access

We are a nation of diverse cultures and lifestyles with differing needs. Being able to access services and support at the right time is important. It is equally important that we support people to have the agency to identify what types of help they need. Tailored support that works for them and their life.

More options available to people, one size fits all approaches don’t always work for everyone.

Feedback from the A Chance for Change report

Lived experience is valued

One way to build parity is to ask people what they need. Identify in an inclusive and meaningful way, what works for them and their communities (interest, experience or geographic). We need to move beyond a commitment to listening. It’s time to embrace a co-production approach to policy and service design.

I’d like a strategy that is shaped by people with lived experience, that we are listened to and not just given a pat on the head.

Feedback from the A Chance for Change report

All parts of the mental health system are equally valued

People want a system that equally values different routes to and types of support. There is a strong call to move away from the dominance of the medical model and over-burdened NHS clinical services. People reported first-hand experiences of asking for help and then needing to wait for months to access support.

We need a joined up approach. Its time to nurture the third sector and the innovative work happening on the ground in communities as well as NHS services. Reshaping the mental health system in this way would open up access, help to reduce waiting lists and result in better, more person-centred support.

Let’s work together

We will continue to connect with people with lived experience and those developing and delivering mental health support. We want to make sure that their ideas form an important part of how we design a new mental health system.

None of the outcomes outlined in this blog are beyond the realm of possibility. They do however require change and change takes time. So let’s take a small step and agree that ALL the evidence available whether practice based, research or lived experience is of equal value in making this change happen.

Together we can make mental health a priority for all.

-Louise

A Chance for Change

You can engage with the A Chance for Change report in a variety of ways or by watching this short animation.