Health Secretary and MSP Jeane Freeman has sought to reassure the public that the Government is doing everything it can to minimize the mental health toll the virus and its effects are having.

The MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley expressed sympathies for the public who have suffered financial loss, loneliness brought on by physical distancing, bereavement, and frustration at the restrictions which are in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

She said: “Many of us will have experienced low moods over the past few weeks. We might feel anxious or worried about what’s happening. Some of us might even be affected by mental health problems for the first time.

“It’s completely understandable to not feel quite yourself. We know that everyone’s mental health will be affected by COVID-19 in different ways. That’s why we’re working to ensure that everyone can access the right support, at the right time, and in the right setting. That could range from general advice about emotional well-being, to digital or telephone support or to specialist mental health services.”

Government help is available via the Clear Your Head website, which contains advice and tips for staying mentally healthy, and also links to where you can ask for help and support, including the NHS Inform site and helplines operated by NHS 24, Breathing Space, SAMH and Samaritans. For children and young people, the Young Scot website is suggested.

Ms Freeman said: “We have invested £3.8 million to increase the capacity of NHS 24’s telephone helplines and extend access to digital services. This will ensure that people who were already receiving mental health services can continue to get the help they need.”

She was keen to point out the work being done to support those experiencing relationship crises, saying: “We’ve also provided more than £700,000 to the counselling service The Spark, to establish a Relationship Helpline... [Which] can be reached on 0808 802 2088, open 9am to 9pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4pm on Fridays.

“Women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the home may feel especially isolated and vulnerable… Victims still have access to methods of reporting crimes during the crisis. Scotland’s 24-hour Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline is available on 0800 027 1234.”


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