SRN respond to Scotland’s new Public Health Priorities

3rd July 2018

Scottish Government and COSLA have published a new set of public health priorities highlighting the importance of a community-led approach to health and wellbeing.

The priorities set a direction for Scotland’s public services over the next ten years, with the aim of agencies and communities working better together to focus on prevention, to reduce health inequality and increase healthy life expectancy.

This document is intended to be the foundation for the whole system for public services, third sector community organisations and others, to work better together to improve Scotland’s health, and to empower people and communities.


The six new priorities are:

  • A Scotland where we live in vibrant, healthy and safe places and communities
  • A Scotland where we flourish in our early years
  • A Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing
  • A Scotland where we reduce the use of and harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
  • A Scotland where we have a sustainable, inclusive economy with equality of outcomes for all
  • A Scotland where we eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active

Responding to the new priorities, Frank Reilly, Director of the Scottish Recovery Network (SRN) commented:

SRN welcomes the intention to support the creation of spaces for communities to come together as a means to tackle increasing loneliness and isolation across Scottish society. Connection to others is a factor in recovery for many people and is fundamental to supporting distress resilient and recovery oriented communities. Initiatives that are led by communities are most likely to be successful, last and have a positive impact on civic society and participation as well as wellbeing. SRN also recognise the importance of linking communal green spaces to the therapeutic impact of horticulture, especially communal gardens for the production of food to be used by local residents.

We welcome the strategy’s stated intention to create positive conditions for children to thrive. We would add that every word spoken, every lesson within schools has the potential to have a positive impact on a young person’s sense of worth, confidence and connection to their school community. We would recommend recognising that wellbeing should be part of every lesson in every school, helping educators recognise what they are already contributing to young people’s wellbeing, and the small changes that could make it even more impactful.

It is useful to see how Scotland’s mental health strategy would contribute to our collective public health goals. SRN would suggest that wellbeing is not about ‘feeling good and functioning effectively’ but rather living the best life that we can, despite or in spite of the challenges that can face us every day. We would also recommend that wellbeing should feature in every national and local policy and policy impacts on wellbeing should be recorded.

SRN recognises that the smoking and alcohol use have an impact on population health across Scotland. We would highlight that these behaviours are often the manifestation of distress. Addressing the social determinants of ill health will have a longer term impact on both alcohol and cigarette consumption and wellbeing for Scotland’s people.

SRN sees the support of wellbeing and support of people in distress as a golden thread that can run throughout this timely strategy. We look forward to influencing its application.

Download the full report here