A COMMUNITY mental health fund has been awarded a further £15m as it aims to tackle social isolation, loneliness and mental health inequalities.
The Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund for adults was launched in October last year, and has helped nearly 2,000 community projects to deliver activities and programmes in its first year.
The fund has supported a wide range of projects including sport, outdoor initiatives and arts and crafts, and covering groups such as older people, those with a long term health conditions or disabilities, people living in rural areas and the LGBT community.
The new investment will allow the fund to continue for another year.
The fund is part of the wider £120m Recovery and Renewal Fund announced in February 2021 to ensure delivery of the commitments set out in the Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan in response to the mental health need arising from the pandemic.
Speaking ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, Mental Wellbeing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness, and we know the pandemic has brought this issue into much greater focus.
“The Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund has supported many projects that help to make people feel less isolated.
“The fund was set up to build and develop capacity within community organisations and grass roots groups so they can support people’s mental health and wellbeing.
“I am pleased that so many projects benefitted in the first year.
“This investment reflects the importance we place on promoting good mental health and early intervention for those facing mental health challenges – ensuring that people can access a range of different types of support to match their needs.
“It will help us to continue to support a range of valuable community mental health and wellbeing projects across Scotland.”
Cowal Elderly Befrienders in Dunoon, Argyll and Bute, is one organisation which has received funding.
The organisation works with men aged 65 and over to reduce social isolation in a group known to be hard to reach.
It provides befriending services designed to improve the quality of life, reduce isolation and loneliness which in turn aids the prevention of suicide.
The service also helps keep older people independent and active in their communities.
Robin Miller, Project Coordinator said: “The numbers of older people we support has steadily increased and we now support over 200 each week.
“Many of the men we support are keen to remain as independent as possible and do not initially reach out for help – it can take weeks or months of sympathetic support to build up confidence, trust and an acceptance of outside help.
“Our work also allows older people to make a positive contribution to the work – in the small groups we work with.
“Our older men often support each other, thereby increasing their sense of self-worth and allowing them to actively further our aims.
“The funding we have recently received will allowed us to sustain and develop our work.
“Over the coming year, our Men on Board project will help us to focus more closely on older men, provide much needed support for them and provide insights into what isolated older men need, want and why this group is often viewed as ‘hard to reach’.”