The MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, Christina McKelvie MSP, is calling on her constituents to check in with one another during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, whilst urging them to make this a regular habit.

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual opportunity to learn and understand more about mental health and the various guises that mental health can exist in. This year, the focus is on anxiety. New research published by the Mental Health Foundation has estimated that over 1 million people in Scotland are living with anxiety.

Further, their research suggests that over a two-week period in March 2023, nearly three-quarters of the UK’s population (73%) had felt anxious at least sometimes, with one in five people anxious most or all of the time.

Christina McKelvie MSP is urging constituents to find somebody they trust to talk to about anxiety, be it to discuss anxious feelings they feel themselves, or to simply learn more about what it is like to suffer from it.

Commenting, Christina said:

“Everybody, at some point in their life, will feel anxious. Right now, I suspect a lot of young people across my constituency are feeling anxious about their exams, and I know from my engagement with constituents that the cost-of-living crisis is creating a whole host of anxieties with people worried about energy prices, and now we are seeing an increase in people anxious about the cost of food, which has steeply risen post-Brexit.

“This year, I am glad that Mental Health Awareness Week is focussing on anxiety. I believe that choosing this area of focus is in tune with how the country is broadly feeling.

“It is a good opportunity to speak to a neighbour, friend, colleague or loved one, just to check in with how they are doing, and to offload some of the anxieties that people are feeling themselves.

“Unfortunately, anxiety can be a more severe mental health issue. Whilst it is normal for everyone to feel anxious at times, it can equally exist as a debilitating, miserable condition which has a severe impact on people’s daily life.

“That is why I want to stress to my constituents that whilst Mental Health Awareness Week is a great reminder to check in with people in your life, both about how they are feeling and to talk about how you have been feeling, that this really needs to be a usual, frequent activity.

“Research conducted the mental health charity Mind has shown that openness can reduce the stigma associated with mental health, leading to greater opportunities to support somebody that is suffering and, in turn, reduce the number of people that suffer in silence. Help is out there, whether that be community based or professionally provided. We need to collectively work to break stigma so as to ensure that people are guided to the correct place for support. And the necessary support is out there.

“For example, there is a new Child and Adolescents Mental Health Service (CAMHS) site at Udston Hospital here in our constituency. It is a new facility which has been designed with a focus on the needs of service users, meaning that the state-of-the-art facility will be able to deliver the first-in-class care and service that my constituents deserve.

“So, please talk to each other, and never forget that there is support and help out there. You can always make an appointment with your GP, too, if you’re not sure where to turn. And my team and I are always on hand to provide direction when required.”