09 Oct 2014

Glasgow Shettleston’s MSP, John Mason, today (Thursday) raised the issue of mental health stigma during questions to the First Minister in Parliament.

Questioning the First Minister on the eve of World Mental Health Day (Friday 10th October), the SNP politician asked what action the Scottish Government was taking to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health issues. He then went on to call upon the Scottish Government to make mental health, and education about it, a priority area until society overcomes the stigma.

Mr Mason also cited a recent case in his Glasgow constituency whereby plans to build a mental health care home faced prejudice from some local residents.

Commenting about the stigma that still surrounds mental health in 2014, John Mason said:

“We all want to be supportive of people with mental health issues. Most of us know friends, family or neighbours who have mental health problems and we want to challenge any stigma that still surrounds these matters.

“An enormous amount of work has been done over recent years to tackle the stigma surrounding many issues in society, be that on racism, disability, etc. Nowadays people are much less likely to use inappropriate language, or treat with disrespect, someone with a physical disability, but I am concerned that the same courtesy or understanding is not extended to those with mental health issues.

“I was quite challenged during the recent proposal to build a mental health care home in my constituency because I believe a silent majority of people are comfortable about this being a part of the community, but I was disturbed by what can only be described as a concerted campaign by a minority who were intent on spreading rumours, misinformation and various prejudices about what is clearly a vulnerable group. I believe that a lot of this stems from the stigma and total lack of understanding that surrounds mental health, so I was pleased to get the opportunity to raise this in Parliament with the First Minister today”.

Judith Robertson, Programme Director of ‘See Me’, added:

“See me is funded by the Scottish Government and Comic Relief to bring about much-need change in people’s attitudes and behaviours in relation to mental health problems.

“The programme today is working with organisations and individuals all over Scotland to bring about that change in workplaces, in health and social care settings and with children and young people.

“At the end of the month See Me is launching its latest campaign to bring people across Scotland on board in the drive the end mental health stigma and discrimination.

“The Scottish Government is behind that campaign and so, we hope, will be MSPs, health and social care staff, teachers, doctors and friends and families of people who live day-to-day with a mental health problem.”