Over the Summer months, The Scottish Government consulted on its new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. As such, Voices of Experience (VOX) Scotland engaged with people with lived experience to submit a consultation response.
We engaged with 51 people online, in–person, or through survey feedback. Crucially, participants represented a range of geographical areas, mental health conditions, genders, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.
Key themes from the consultation response include:
1. Concerns about terminology
Participants had deep concerns about a lack of focus on the terms ‘mental ill health’, ’mental health conditions’, and ’mental illness’ within the Strategy’s vision. While there is a connection between ‘wellbeing’ and ‘mental health’, these terms must be clearly distinguished. However, the Strategy uses these terms interchangeably – and thus improperly.
“It is as if they are interchangeable. Wellbeing is very broad brush. [While it is] good to prevent and talk about it, mental health must be part of that. Not just wellbeing.”
2. Genuine involvement of people with lived experience
Participants want all feedback that people with lived experience (PWLE) provide in this consultation to be taken seriously. Participants questioned if feedback from PWLE will be weighted appropriately, and similarly queried if action will be taken in the direction people want.
“I want to be sure the Scottish Government is valuing lived experience when it makes decisions.”
3. Consistent, empathetic staff required in mental health services across Scotland
Participants need empathetic and non–judgemental staff to provide high quality care and treatment. Further, staff consistency is necessary to build strong and trusting relationships. Consistency in the frequency and reliability of ongoing care to maintain wellness and avoid crises is also crucial.
“In every psychiatric and psychological service, people need good relationships. The quality of service is [significantly] improved if they are consistent and good. That consistent, empathetic relationship is key.”
In conclusion, participants want the strategy to deliver for all in society and support preventative measures and resources to increase wellbeing. However, people with mental illness must not be ignored in the process. Ultimately, participants want positive change, genuinely shaped by people with lived experience, so they can access the services and support they need and deserve.