By Democrat reporter

Jackie Baillie has given her support to Mental Health Awareness Week which this year is focusing on anxiety.

Mental Health Awareness Week, now in its 23rd year, runs from May 15th to 21st and is hosted by the charity, Mental Health Foundation. The theme this year is anxiety, a common feeling that can sometimes get out of control.

Across the UK, people are encouraged to get involved by sharing their experience of anxiety and the things that can help with the hashtag #ToHelpMyAnxiety. As part of the campaign, the Mental Health Foundation will be publishing guidance on how feelings of anxiety can be managed and improved to prevent them from developing into a more serious mental health problem.

In Scotland, the SNP Government have been failing people who are struggling with mental ill health as it was revealed that a key commitment to recruit an additional 1,000 mental health roles made in the Scottish Government’s 2021/22 Programme for Government has yet to begin.

In response to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Ms Baillie’s Scottish Labour colleague, Paul Sweeney MSP,  the Minister for Mental Health, Maree Todd, admitted that the recruitment of these roles hadn’t yet started, citing “difficult decisions that had to be taken through the Emergency Budget Review”. This is despite the commitment being made 20 months ago, 15 months prior to the Emergency Budget Review taking place.

This has happened while patients have struggled to access support for their mental health. According to the most recent figures published by Public Health Scotland, more than a quarter of adults (27.6 percent) waited more than 18 weeks for psychological therapies across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde during the final three months of 2022.

Labour spokesperson Jackie Baillie and Paul Sweeney.

Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton constituency MSP, said: “This revelation regarding the recruitment of additional mental health staff goes to show how little regard the SNP Government has for mental ill health. They have made no progress on a pledge that was made 20 months ago while the First Minister was Health Secretary.

“This lack of action is happening while people are waiting far too long for treatment.

“This mental health awareness week should absolutely be about opening up conversations to help people identify and manage symptoms of mental ill health but it should also be about the Scottish Government acting on promises they have made and doing right for the people who need support.”

Alexa Charnley, Director of Fundraising and Communications at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We all experience anxiety but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem.  However, there are things we can do to manage feelings of anxiety and stop them becoming overwhelming.  For example, breathing exercises, physical activity, speaking to a trusted friend, or keeping a diary. You can find more information and guidance on our website

“This Mental Health Awareness Week we’re encouraging everyone to get involved by sharing their experiences of anxiety and the things that help with the hashtag #ToHelpMyAnxiety.  We hope people all over the UK will take part and help us to normalise conversations about anxiety and mental health.  We hope the week helps people to feel more confident in talking about anxiety and how it affects them.  Most importantly, we hope people understand more about what they can do to manage anxiety and what other support is available.”

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