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More discussion needed on illnesses that are less well known

Publication date: 1 Nov, 2017

Publishing its annual report for 2016-17 today, the Mental Welfare Commission welcomed the openness of public figures in speaking about depression and anxiety, and called for similar public discussion of mental illnesses that are less well known and can be misunderstood.

Graham Forbes, Chairman of the Mental Welfare Commission, said:

"Perhaps more than any other year, I feel there has been more public discussion of mental illness at a national level than ever before, but set against continued pressure on local services.

"The willingness of high profile public figures to talk about mental illness is important and very much welcome. By speaking openly about their own struggles with depression or anxiety, they help others realise that mental illness can happen to anyone.

"A substantial next step would be for that kind of open discussion to extend to those mental illnesses and diagnoses which are less well known, and can be misunderstood. This could help address prejudice and improve care and treatment."

The annual report highlights the work done by the Commission in 2016/17, including:

  • The launch of a new Rights in Mind campaign to ensure that patients' rights are explained to them and upheld at key points in their treatment.
  • The publication of the Commission's first Scotland-wide report on medium and low security forensic wards, involving visits to 46 wards.
  • New good practice guidance for health and social care staff on supported decision making.
  • A good practice guide on LGBT inclusive mental health services.
  • Detailed annual monitoring reports on the use of the Mental Health Act and the Adults with Incapacity Act.
  • From June 2016, the Commission also began publishing all of its reports of visits to local wards and units across Scotland, increasing transparency and sharing good practice and lessons learned.

Colin McKay, Chief Executive of the Mental Welfare Commission said:

"Our job is to help ensure that people with mental illness, learning disability or dementia are treated fairly, have their rights respected, and have appropriate support to live the life of their choice. This was an important year, with the Government publishing a new mental health strategy, and changes to the Mental Health Act giving new responsibilities to the Commission. We welcomed these, but there is more to do.

"We worked with others to test Scotland's core legislation in relation to mental health and incapacity and we found that what was once world-leading is now in need of specific reform. We published a report calling on the Scottish Government to take this agenda forward, and this will be a priority for us in the coming months."