Op-Ed: Scotland has a new strategy to improve mental health services

Posted Aug 12, 2012 by Melissa Horrocks
Mental health services in Scotland are being improved. Scotland have launched a new strategy that aims to improve the lives of people with mental health illness.
Mental health problems plague the life of sufferers. There are times when a person can be well, in remission, and times when someone is ill. When a person is ill, they need help quickly, before everything spirals out of control. I am talking as a person who knows what it is like to suffer from mental health issues. I was diagnosed with Schizoid Affective Disorder, 13 years ago now, at the age of 22. Over the years, I have been in hospital about six times. I have a Psychiatric nurse who I see on a regular basis. I also take medication on a daily basis, that helps me lead a normal life.
I was pleased when I read that Scotland had launched a new strategy aimed at helping to improve the lives of people with mental health problems. The Scottish Government have said that the issue is one of the top public health challenges in Europe, according to BBC News.
In this new review, the government have highlighted 36 commitments, that include offering quicker access to mental health services for younger individuals. It is estimated, that mental health disorders affect over one-third of the population each year, the review claimed.
The most common of these ailments is depression and anxiety according to the Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2012-2015.
I think that by helping people earlier, it will prevent further problems down the line. I wish that I had been helped sooner. I started hearing voices when I was just eight years old. I was sexually abused and it was a frightening time for me. I also developed obsessive compulsive disorder.
NewsnetScotland reports, Public Health Minister Michael Matheson explained that Scotland was very proud of what they had achieved helping to promote rights and recovery for service users and their carers. It is now hoped that the pace of change can be increased and that there is a constant focus on delivering improvements that they believe will positively influence the population.
There was a firm focus on changes that a person can make in their lives and communities to maintain and improve their mental illness, the government said.
Joyce Mouriki, chair of Vox, a national mental health service-user organisation explained what the changes would mean for service users. They would be able to access psychological therapies, crises response, social prescribing, peer support and employment much more quickly.
The strategy sets out, 36 major commitments to be delivered between now and 2015 that will help decrease and prevent suicide and address stigma and discrimination.
I still believe that there is a lot of stigma that surrounds mental illness and discrimination. I have faced a lot of stigma from people after informing them that I have mental health problems. People just don't want to know. They may appear really friendly, but as soon as I tell the person I have mental health issues, they don't want to be friends with me. It's like they think I am going to harm them, or that it may rub off on them in some way. Of course, it's not like this all the time, but some people can be awful. I've never harmed anyone in my life and never would. I may have experiences that other people don't have, but it wouldn't be right if we were all the same.
I like the fact, that there is a strong focus on the positive things that a person can do to help themselves throughout the strategy. I think that some people feel that they cannot do anything to help themselves. However, simply by thinking more positively about life, it helps. I've found relaxation, swimming, cycling, taking a walk and talking can really help when I feel ill. Making the effort to look nice and apply make-up can help too. I also find that putting on a smile each day helps to lift my mood. However, it's not always that easy to smile when you feel ill.
Other commitments in the strategy, include working more successfully with families and carers and improving connections between work on alcohol and depression to improve identification and treatment, reports
My only hope, is that the U.K and other Countries will find ways of improving mental health services.