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by Sandy Riddell, Mental Welfare Commission
14 December 2021
Associate Feature: We focus on the most vulnerable

Associate Feature: We focus on the most vulnerable

We know that having fewer life chances and living with a lack of security in housing and income can create long term stress for any person.

You will have read this many times before.

It puts extra pressure on family relationships and friendships, and is often linked to ill health.
Inequality can also be seen between people from minority communities and the majority.

If I may briefly outline some stark facts:

Last year, after adjusting for age, people in the most deprived parts of Scotland were 18 times as likely to die from a drug-related death as those in the least deprived. We have the highest rate of drugs deaths in Europe.

Scotland’s most deprived areas had a suicide rate last year that was three times that of the least deprived areas.

Our own recently-published data for the year shows higher rates of detention (being treated against your will when seriously unwell) for mental ill health for people living in Scotland’s most deprived areas, compared to those living in the least deprived.

In our recent report on race and mental health services in Scotland we found clear differences in the use of detention for people from black and minority ethnic communities for mental health treatment. Staff also told us of witnessing racism at work.

Interlinked problems means working together

Given that poverty and inequality are interlinked with health, education, housing and cultural issues, the challenge is always how to do something effective about it.

Organisations must prioritise addressing inequalities within their own roles and responsibilities, and also link with other organisations and share information to increase the impact of what we do.

How does the Mental Welfare Commission have an impact?

We are an independent public body. We promote and protect the human rights of people with mental ill health, learning disabilities, dementia and other related conditions.

We focus on the most vulnerable. We do this by visiting people and staff on hospital wards and in the community. We publish reports on what we find, including making clear recommendations for change where we find change is needed.

The Commission has a statutory duty to monitor how the law is used to care for and treat people, and we publish that data. We create expert good practice guides for health and care professionals, and run an advice line for them and for people with lived experience, and their relatives or carers.

Children and young people

Young people with mental ill health are particularly vulnerable, and need specialist care. We monitor and publish information on when young people are treated not in specialist wards, but instead on adult wards or other wards. This should only happen in rare cases.

We also continue to call for intensive psychiatric care facilities for young people in Scotland, as currently there are none.

One wish

At this time of year we are allowed to make wishes for the future.

Mine would be that in our small country, we develop ways of acting more quickly on the many recommendations and findings of organisations such as the Mental Welfare Commission.
Turning strong evidence and expert findings into action that makes a difference to people has to be the priority.

This article is sponsored by the Mental Welfare Commission.

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