Hopes fly for mental health sufferers

By Anika Aylward Blake

Volunteers let Chinese lanterns fly on Calton Hill. Credit: Mike Byrne

Mental health has become a growing issue within Scotland. With statistics being released that show depression cases increasing, certain charities have stood up and demanded the public’s attention.

On Sunday, Chinese lanterns could be seeing floating over Edinburgh, marking the start of the Scottish Mental Health Week. Attached to these lanterns were messages from volunteers, asking for support and understanding for those with mental health problems.

This event was organised by the Scottish Government funded charity, ‘see me’. The charity focusses on changing the public perception and attitudes towards mental health. Further to that, ‘see me’ would like to see a change in public behaviour when interacting with those suffering from mental health problems.

The Scottish Mental Health Week helps bring certain issues to the public eye. With over 77,00o people over the age of 18 in the Lothian area having been diagnosed with depression in 2008, and these figures raising annually, charities such as ‘see me’ believe it is becoming crucial to confront these issues.

Breathing Space, a different charity that runs a helpline for those living with depression, have recently released a statistic that emphasises the need for more support for those suffering from mental health problems; on average, the helpline is receiving 6,000 calls per month, which is over double the amount received in 2006. With calls increasing, the helpline is struggling to meet the demand, as the amount of staff available to listen have lessened due to staff turnover.

The NHS has also released a statistic about depression; in Scotland, one in ten adults are taking daily medication for depression.

In response to the growing demand for help in the sector, the Scottish Government has created a policy “to maintain the mental well-being of the people in Scotland, and improve the situation of those with mental ill-health, by working with others.”

Pru Davies, 52, who has experienced mental health problems for most of her adult like, shared her experience and advice with the ‘see me’ website, stating that “Life is for living and the skin you are in is the one that matters, so find something that helps you believe in that and stick with it.”