Rural communities’ mental health and wellbeing hit hard by Covid

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New national research has shown that 93 per cent of people living in marginalised rural communities in Scotland believe the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

The report commissioned by mental health charity Support in Mind Scotland (SiMS) and the National Rural Mental Health Forum focused specifically on LGBT+ people, young carers and refugees and asylum seekers.

Among the key issues it highlights are the loss of face-to-face contact and lack of access to local support.

Long-standing rural challenges such as digital connectivity, transport and isolation have also worsened during the pandemic, the Marginalised Rural Communities Report has found.

Refugee and asylum seekers highlighted the issue of community integration, and interruption to language development has had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing, while online support has been key to the mental wellbeing of young carers and LGBT+ people.

Frances Simpson, CEO of SiMS, said: ‘This research highlights the importance of local connections in communities to support people with poor mental health.

‘We now need to build resilience and capabilities in our communities to improve life chances of those who may be experiencing poor mental health.’

The findings of the report were shared yesterday, Wednesday February 17, with the National Rural Mental Health Forum, which has more than 180 member organisations from across the public, private and charity sectors.

Co-author Fiona Thompson, SiMS rural campaign manager, said: ‘We know that Covid-19 is impacting on the mental health of communities across Scotland.

‘This research has highlighted the barriers that groups at risk of marginalisation face in ensuring good mental health and wellbeing.

‘We will be focusing on taking forward the recommendations in the report to prioritise the mental health of marginalised rural communities in Scotland and ensure that they have a voice in the policy-making process.’

The survey took place between November and December 2020, and another key finding was that people are largely finding support through ‘hyper-local’ connections – support networks either comprising friends, family, neighbours or local support organisations.

The full report can be viewed and downloaded at: ruralwellbeing.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Marginalised-Rural-Communities-Support-in-Mind-Scotland-1.1.pdf