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March 2, 2021

Do we have a plan?

The danger in constantly referencing a ‘mental health crisis’ (which predates the pandemic but has certainly been massively accentuated by it) is that we assume a comprehensive response is being formulated. In recent editions of this briefing, the role of community based mental health services has been highlighted but the extent of need being met is only the tip of the iceberg. Research from Support in Mind Scotland indicates 93% of people in marginalised rural communities recognise Covid as having impacted on their mental health. Interestingly, the most useful support is reported as coming from hyper-local connections.

Support in Mind Scotland (SiMS)

Pandemic affects mental health of 93% living in marginalised rural communities

New national research has shown that 93% of people living in marginalised rural communities in Scotland believe the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

The report commissioned by Support in Mind Scotland (SiMS) and the National Rural Mental Health Forum focused specifically on LGBT+ people, young carers and refugees and asylum seekers. Among the key issues it highlights are the loss of face-to-face contact and lack of access to local support.

Long-standing rural challenges such as digital connectivity, transport and isolation have also worsened during the pandemic, the Marginalised Rural Communities Report has found.

Refugee and asylum seekers highlighted the issue of community integration and interruption to language development has had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing, while online support has been key to mental wellbeing of young carers and LGBT+ people.

Frances Simpson, CEO of SiMS, said: “This research highlights the importance of local connections in communities to support people with poor mental health.

“We now need to build resilience and capabilities in our communities to improve life chances of those who may be experiencing poor mental health.”

The findings of the report were shared today (Wednesday, 17 February) with the National Rural Mental Health Forum, which has more than 180 member organisations from across the public, private and charity sectors.

Co-author Fiona Thompson, SiMS Rural Campaign Manager, said: “We know that Covid-19 is impacting on the mental health of communities across Scotland. This research has highlighted the barriers that groups at risk of marginalisation face in ensuring good mental health and wellbeing.

“We will be focusing on taking forward the recommendations in the report to prioritise the mental health of marginalised rural communities in Scotland and ensure that they have a voice in the policy-making process.’’

The survey took place between November and December 2020, and another key finding was that people are largely finding support through ‘hyper-local’ connections – support networks either comprising friends, family, neighbours or local support organisations.

The full report is attached and can be viewed here