This plan outlines the Scottish Government's response to the mental health impacts of Covid-19. It addresses the challenges that the pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on the population's mental health.
It lays out key areas of mental health need that have arisen as a result of Covid-19 and lockdown, and the actions that the Scottish Government will take to respond to that need. Some of the work outlined here had been started before the pandemic, but we have included it because it continues to be relevant to our ongoing response.
As we learn to live with the pandemic, we will continue to support good mental health and wellbeing, to help people manage their own mental health, and to build their emotional resilience. We want to ensure that people get the right support, at the right time, and in the right setting – this includes when mental illness does occur. We will support mental health recovery in a way that is personal to each individual's journey, and which focuses on their rights.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every single person in Scotland. Many of us have been anxious or worried about our health, our family and friends, and changes to our way of life. Some individuals, families and communities will have found the past few months really tough. Inequalities play a significant role in this, and we know that the mental health impact of Covid-19 will not have been felt equally across Scotland.
As we move forward through the phases of this pandemic, we want to see a continued focus on good mental wellbeing, and on ensuring that the right help and support is available whenever it is needed. We also know that different types of mental health need will continue to emerge as time passes. We will need to continually adapt our approach to reflect this.
We have been through a full national lockdown, and it is likely that we will continue to see targeted measures in place for some time to come. That means we now face the reality of a situation which is likely to have long-lasting economic, social, and health impacts. The pandemic has tested everyone's emotional resilience, and will continue to do so – the process of recovery will not be a linear one. Looking forward, we also know that some of the mental health impacts of Covid-19 and of lockdown are only beginning to fully materialise.
The past few months have tested the NHS, and Scotland's Social Care system, including those who provide unpaid care, like never before. The people who comprise the Health and Social Care workforce have gone above and beyond to deliver much needed care to individuals under incredibly difficult circumstances. Unpaid carers have also taken on increased caring during this time and are facing additional pressures as a result of the pandemic. While the challenges are evolving, we continue to rely on the workforce to support all aspects of health and social care, particularly mental health care.
The renewed focus on mental health presents us with an opportunity to refresh our commitment to overcome the stigma around mental health. There have been more visible conversations about mental health and wellbeing. Like never before, the people of Scotland have embraced the idea that it's OK not to be OK, it's OK to say that out loud, and it's OK to seek help. We must support each other to maintain that shared awareness. We must cherish and protect an environment which promotes the right to good mental health, and we will embed human rights, equality, dignity, and the voice of lived experience at the heart of our approach.
This document outlines the Scottish Government's response to the impacts that the pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on the population's mental health.
For some of these emerging issues, we don't yet have all the answers. We will continue working with stakeholders and, crucially, people with lived experience, to further understand these issues, and to develop implementation plans where these are needed. These will include milestone dates, details of who will need to be involved to deliver each piece of work, and how we will measure success. There will also need to be prioritisation of the work that responds to the most urgent need.