NEWS: HUG Action for Mental Health Release their Executive Report

MWH Admin Team News

HUG (Action for Mental Health) referred to in this report as HUG, is part of SPIRIT Advocacy. HUG is a network of people who have lived experience of mental ill health.

HUG has around 300 members, meets regularly across the Highlands and has been in existence since 1996. HUG is a membership organisation. Membership is free and open to anyone living in the Highlands who has experience of mental ill health. HUG is an independent collective advocacy organisation and works to ensure that the voices of people living with mental illness are heard by services and policymakers. HUG wants people with mental health conditions to live without discrimination and to be equal partners in their communities.

As our service is opening up to face-to-face meetings, HUG wanted to explore the needs and wants of our members. In our online meetings we have found that people have identified that their mental health has deteriorated during lockdown, some members had said that they needed to increase or change medication, some have adapted their lifestyles and some have tried to access clinical services or crisis support.

Our survey was completed in Summer 2021 and the findings show that access to services around Highland remains challenging with long waiting lists and staff shortages. There is a tone of desperation in some of the comments which is reflective of the conversations we have had with people right across Highlands.

The survey also explored the priorities that our members wanted HUG to take forward in a post lockdown world. There is continuing support for our advocacy work, for increasing awareness of mental health and anti-stigma work, for training and information work and for creative work, all of which helps to amplify the voice of people living with mental illness in Highland.

The survey shows also that our members have a desire to see HUG work with partners to improve services, to increase the availability of peer support and crisis support specifically and to hold services to account.

This report highlights the real-life experiences of people living with mental illness in Highland and will help HUG to identify work-streams over the next three years. However this report has wider relevance. It tells us that people feel overwhelmingly that they are not being listened to in Highland.

If we are truly to tackle and improve mental wellbeing, intervene earlier in crisis situations and reduce deaths by suicide then the collective voice of people with lived experience must be at the centre of the work that is done.

You can read the full report here

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