Scotland hosts international mental health gathering

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14th March 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Mental health organisations from around the world are visiting Scotland this week.

See Me, the national programme to end mental health discrimination, is hosting a global gathering of organisations and activists, from as far away as New Zealand and California.

The event, from 16-17 March, is the first time that Scotland has hosted the major international meeting of the Global Anti-Stigma Alliance, made up of 14 organisations.

Over the course of two days the organisations will join forces to look at what is working best around the world in tackling mental health discrimination in areas such as workplaces and healthcare.

On the third day See Me is hosting a public conference in Glasgow, where 160 people from across the country will learn more about the work going on globally.

This is a global issue and we are delighted for Scotland to be at the heart of tackling it

Jamie Hepburn, the minister for sport, health improvement and mental health, will launch the event, speaking about our work in Scotland to enable people with mental health conditions to live more fulfilled lives.

Scots with first-hand experience of mental health conditions will also present on how they use their experiences to tackle stigmatising attitudes and behaviours.

In Scotland, recently published statistics reveal nearly half (45%) of Scottish workers think people in their organisation wouldn’t speak about their mental health for fear of discrimination from their colleagues.

In health care, people with severe mental health problems life expectancy is 15-20 years less than the Scottish average.

According to the World Health Organisation the dignity of people with mental health conditions around the world isn’t always respected, which includes being discriminated against, denied access to general and mental health care as well as education and employment opportunities.

Globally, an estimated 350 million people are affected by depression, 60 million experience bipolar disorder and 21 million have experienced psychoses related disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Judith Robertson, See Me programme director, said: “Too many people who experience mental health problems also face stigma and discrimination, not just in this country, but around the world.

“People often say the reactions and behaviours of others towards them after disclosing the nature of an illness can be more damaging than the diagnosis itself. 

“Having leading organisations from countries including the USA, New Zealand and Canada travel to Scotland shows this is a global issue and we are delighted for Scotland to be at the heart of tackling it.”