Mental health and wellbeing strategy: easy read summary

Easy read summary of the new mental health and wellbeing strategy, laying out our vision for improving mental health and wellbeing in Scotland.

Scotland's Mental Health and Wellbeing Our Vision and Priorities Easy Read Version


This document sets out our plans to make mental health and wellbeing better for everyone in Scotland. We describe what a good mental health system should be like. The right support should be available in the right place, at the right time, for whoever asks for help.

We will make sure that specialist mental health services are available for those who need them. But we know that mental health does not just mean mental illness. This Strategy covers all levels of need, from good mental wellbeing, to the support available in our communities.

We also know that there are many social circumstances and inequalities that can affect people's mental health. This includes things like poverty, housing, employment, and our communities.

Along with this document, we will publish a Delivery Plan, showing the actions we will take and when they will be done.

Our Vision

We want a Scotland where no one is made to feel bad about who they are, and everyone is equal. Everyone should have the best mental health and wellbeing possible.

To make this vision happen, we will:

  • Promote positive mental health and wellbeing for everyone in Scotland. We will understand each other better and tackle inequality and discrimination.

  • Prevent mental health issues from happening or getting worse. We will tackle the causes, problems and inequalities wherever possible.

  • Provide mental health and wellbeing support and care. We will make sure people and communities can get the right information, skills, support, services, and opportunities in the right place, at the right time.

Our Principles

The Strategy, and the actions contained in the upcoming Delivery Plan, are based on ten core principles. These are:

  • Our work is based on equality and human rights.

  • We focus on the mental health and wellbeing of people, families, communities, and society, supporting those who are impacted by mental illness.

  • We focus on outcomes. This means the results of our work should always make people lives better.

  • We know that some people have had bad experiences and how they have been affected by them.

  • We look at a person and all the things that affect them like housing, relationships, physical health, employment, not just their mental health.

  • Our work is based on good information, facts, and evidence.

  • We will work together with other organisations and the public to develop and deliver our services.

  • Anyone asking for help with their mental health and wellbeing should be able to access the right support, care, and treatment for them. It should not matter where they first asked for it.

  • We will listen to people with lived experience and staff. This will include groups that are not normally included, and children and young people.

  • Our work looks at spotting mental health problems early, stopping them from getting worse, helping people get better. We will treat mental illness and poor mental wellbeing, look for ways to lower risks, give better protection and give the right support at important life stages.

Tackling Mental Health Inequalities

Health inequalities are unfair differences in people's health across society and between different groups of people.

Some groups of people have poorer mental health than others. The causes of health inequalities can be differences in income, wealth, and power. They can have a big impact on a person's wider life chances and experiences.

Because of this, some groups are at greater risk of poor mental health than others. Problems caused can include poverty, discrimination, loneliness, unemployment, poor quality housing and lack of social opportunities.

People can be discriminated against because of their age, race, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. Within this there are also hidden groups, such as veterans, homeless or those experiencing abuse.

Many people in these groups experience discrimination from parts of society. This makes them feel like they are not part of wider society. This can cause damage to their mental health that the rest of the population does not have to face.

These same groups of people also often have less access to the proper support for their mental health. When they do get support, their experiences and outcomes can be poorer. These inequalities in mental healthcare can increase mental health inequalities.

We must understand that people are all different and have different experiences that affect their mental health. This will help us to tackle inequality. We need support, services, care, and treatment that are anti-racist, culturally sensitive, age- appropriate and inclusive.

What Success Looks Like


Awareness of mental health and wellbeing has got better but there is still work to do. We need better understanding so that no one is made to feel bad about who they are and everyone is aware of mental health issues.

Promotion of mental health and wellbeing starts with all of us as people, families, and communities. Promotion should make sure we know how to look after our own mental health and wellbeing and others in the communities we live in.

To tackle inequalities, we need help from Government, public and private organisations, voluntary organisations, Health Boards, and communities. All public organisations (like the NHS, Police, schools) must follow equality laws when they do their work and make decisions.

We will work more closely with voluntary and support organisations to find out about people's needs. We will put more money into new mental health support and services.

We will work with people with lived experience to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing. We will also make sure people know where to access advice, self-care opportunities, community support and connections for people who need them.


Prevention means stopping mental health problems from happening or getting worse. We must tackle the causes and inequalities wherever possible.

Spotting mental health problems early and giving advice and support will still be important. We will get better at dealing with people experiencing crisis, keeping them safe and stopping their situation from getting worse.

We will give better early access to services in primary and community healthcare settings like GPs. This will stop people becoming so unwell that they need more serious treatments that may have a negative impact on their daily lives.

An important part of prevention will be finding out more about groups and communities who are at greater risk of poor mental health.

We will also make better links between different parts of the system. This will make sure people are connected directly to the advice and support they need, wherever they first seek help.


People who have poor mental health should get fast access to safe, effective, and compassionate support, care, and treatment.

This means working closely with Health Boards and local partners to make sure waiting time standards are met and that services meet the needs of those who use them.

We have made a promise to give high quality mental health and wellbeing support and care. This means people can access the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

People need different kinds of support and care at different points in their lives. This means meeting the different needs of children, young people, and adults as well as minority groups.

We will continue to make mental health supports and services better. This includes digital and new technology services to make sure people get quality care and treatment as close to home as possible that meets individual needs.

We will also continue our successful partnership work with Police Scotland, the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24, health boards and others to make sure those in crisis can get the best care for them, as quickly as possible.

A Whole System Approach

As we were developing this Strategy, people told us that a whole person approach was important to them. A whole person approach means that every part of a person's life should be thought about when planning and delivering mental health services.

Support, care, and treatment must be given as locally as possible and as specialist as necessary. This means the system must meet local and individual needs.

However, we know that some mental health conditions are long-term or even lifelong, meaning people will need ongoing support for the rest of their lives. This means they need ongoing access to a range of support and services.


Our vision is that the mental health and wellbeing workforce are valued and supported to give the right services and support.

We want a mental health and wellbeing workforce which is diverse, skilled, supported, and long-lasting.

The mental health and wellbeing workforce are needed for promoting mental wellbeing, preventing poor mental health, or stopping existing mental health conditions from getting worse.

They give safe, effective, well timed, compassionate, and evidenced based support, care, and treatment where these are need.



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