No-one to fear loneliness or isolation in Scotland


Politicians believe a new approach can tackle the problem 

16th January 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Campaigners warn that the Scottish Government’s new strategy to tackle social isolation must have prevention at its heart if it is to have any meaningful impact.

The Mental Health Foundation Scotland has also called on the Scottish Government to back its 12 recommendations on tackling social isolation among over 65s.

It comes as the Scottish Government launched a consultation into the new national strategy yesterday (16 January) saying it will lead the way in adressing the issues. 

The foundation recently published research on loneliness among both older people and young Scots – the two age groups in society most likely to be affected by loneliness.

The research on older people revealed that up to 120,000 over 65s could be living with undiagnosed depression, with around a third saying they felt they ought to cope with the problem themselves.

Lee Knifton, head of Mental Health Foundation Scotland said: "Loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time – indeed it’s as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“This research is clear that if left unaddressed it can lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety and we are delighted that the Scottish Government is bringing forward a strategy to tackle it. However, if it’s to have any meaningful impact it must have prevention at its heart.

“Too many older people are stuck in hospital wards as there is no alternative for them – but in many cases it’s not an acute need, but a social and community response they require.”

Launching the draft strategy and consultation on a visit to the Hidden Gardens Project in Pollokshields, social security minister Jeane Freeman said: “The Scottish Government has, quite rightly, an important role to play but we want communities and society to lead it.

"We believe communities themselves are best places to ensure people who may be at risk of becoming isolated or lonely can access the support they need. 

“Now we want to hear from you about what is important in tackling these issues.  I would encourage everyone to have a say on this very important issue.”