People in Scotland are being called to tackle the stigma and discrimination around mental health in 2021.
As the new year begins, See Me, the national programme to end mental health discrimination, is encouraging people to reach out to others who they think might be struggling alone.
The programme spoke to 40 of their volunteers after the first lockdown, finding over half (54%) said they were worried about sharing their difficulties with others because everyone was going through tough times.
With continuing lockdowns at the start of 2021, See Me is encouraging community groups, workplaces, schools, universities and health and social care providers in Scotland to make a difference, by getting involved in Time to Talk Day, on February 4.
Time to Talk Day will get the nation talking about mental health, so people never have to feel embarrassed or ashamed to say they are struggling. It will show how a small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference, and that this is something we can all do for each other.
See Me volunteer Tommy Kelly, 40, from Dalry in Ayrshire, said: “Speaking has definitely been more difficult during the pandemic because people have been going through a lot – and dying – so your problems seem miniscule.
“I think where the pandemic has also affected me is being home and having a lot of time on my hands. It’s around now that I have the anniversary of a difficult point in my life.”
Research from the Royal College of Psychiatrists last year found 43% of psychiatrists have seen an increase in urgent and emergency cases following the COVID-19 lockdown, and that will increase following the pandemic.
Wendy Halliday, See Me director, said: “A small conversation has the power to make a big difference, and starting a conversation is such a simple thing we can all do for one another – not just on Time to Talk Day.”
Tommy Kelly adds: “The more we all speak, the more we lessen the stigma. It’s as simple as someone reaching out and asking how you are and if they can help in any way.”