The Importance of Public Mental Health for Political Success
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
As the SNP leadership contest begins, it is crucial for all candidates vying to become the First Minister of Scotland to prioritize public mental health during the current cost-of-living crisis and throughout their term in office.
The Link Between Financial Strain and Poor Mental Health
Research has consistently shown a strong connection between financial strain, poverty, and mental health issues. The cost-of-living crisis has exacerbated financial strain for many individuals. A recent poll conducted in Scotland in November 2022 revealed that 40% of adults experienced anxiety, 33% felt stressed, and 13% felt hopeless due to their financial situation.
Furthermore, the same poll highlighted that a significant number of people were concerned about affording essential living costs in the coming months. More than half of the respondents worried about food insecurity, while over six in ten were concerned about paying their monthly household bills. Additionally, more than four in ten expressed concerns about paying their rent or mortgage.
Prioritizing Mental Health in Government Policies
In January, a report titled “Mental Health and the Cost-of-Living Crisis: Another Pandemic in the Making?” was published. This report provided evidence-based recommendations for both the UK and Scottish governments to address the mental health repercussions of the cost-of-living crisis. It is now imperative that those aspiring to become the next First Minister of Scotland make the mental health and well-being of the people a top priority. This includes preventing a rise in mental health problems and addressing the root causes, such as poverty and inequality.
Taking Immediate Action
The new First Minister of Scotland must be prepared to tackle the ongoing public mental health emergency, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, from day one. This requires redoubling efforts to mitigate the repercussions of the crisis by increasing income support and advice, allocating more funds to safeguard community organizations and facilities, and ensuring frontline workers receive adequate training in trauma-informed service delivery. Moreover, these workers must be equipped to respond compassionately to individuals experiencing financial strain or poor mental health.
Similarly, protecting individuals against the potentially devastating mental health impact of the cost-of-living crisis and cuts to public services should be a priority.
The Yardstick of Success: Public Mental Health
As the saying goes, “your health is your wealth.” No potential leader can claim to have a strategy that delivers prosperity without considering the impact of government decisions on public mental health. The mental health and well-being of the population are crucial indicators of a nation’s success.
Notes to Editors
The poll was conducted by Opinium, surveying 1,044 adults aged 18 and over in Scotland between November 7 and 14, 2022. The figures were weighted to ensure national representativeness.
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About the Mental Health Foundation
- The Mental Health Foundation has been the home of Mental Health Awareness Week since 2001.
- Our vision is to achieve good mental health for all.
- We work towards preventing mental health problems.
- Our goal is to drive change towards a mentally healthy society, supporting communities, families, and individuals, with a particular focus on those most vulnerable to poor mental health.
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- The Mental Health Foundation relies on voluntary donations to provide evidence-based advice and carry out vital work in preventing poor mental health.