4. Socio-Economic Inequalities
Poverty is the single biggest driver of poor mental health and there is a structural relationship between wider socio-economic inequality and mental health. We know that the reverse can also be true – poor mental health can increase the risk of living in poverty. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to be felt more severely by communities and individuals who experience higher levels of deprivation. Some of that deprivation may be relatively 'hidden' – for example, in rural areas – but nonetheless fundamental. We also understand that many people across Scotland will experience financial hardship as a result of the economic downturn. We therefore anticipate that the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic will disproportionately impact those who are poorest.
- 4.1 - Tackling Poverty. Building on the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, we will align work on mental health with work to tackle poverty and reduce inequality. For example, we are committed to collaborating with Local Authorities and NHS Boards to support the appropriate inclusion of mental health and wellbeing as a key priority within Local Child Poverty Action Plans.
- 4.2 - Mental Health Support for Those Living in Poverty. We will build on the work undertaken by NHS Boards, Integrated Joint Boards (IJBs) and Local Authorities to further promote good practice, develop guidance, and provide evidence updates to ensure that mental health support is prioritised and enhanced for those living in poverty.
- 4.3 - Benefits System. We are working with Social Security Scotland and the Department for Work and Pensions to promote mental health support at the point of initial engagement with the benefits system and at key points of review.