News / Mental health survey raises isles concerns

LONG waiting times, lack of investment and not enough support for young people are some of the key concerns which have been raised by Shetlanders in a nationwide survey on mental health in rural Scotland.

A total of 22 people from the isles responded to a survey carried out last year by charity Support in Mind Scotland and Scotland’s Rural College.

The feedback will be used by the new The National Rural Mental Health Forum, which includes range of organisations such as NFU Scotland, NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Government and Samaritans.

Waiting times was a key issue for respondents from Shetland, with some calling for more outreach support and equal facilities with less remote areas.

People also felt there should be more support given to communities in tackling mental health issues, while there should be more awareness raising and increased support offered to young people.

There were calls for more investment in resources, as well as local groups and third sector organisations, while respondents also said people should have a proper follow-up when they are discharged from treatment in Aberdeen.


NHS Shetland recently advertised two new mental health posts as it continues to bolster its service following criticism for leaving patients waiting too long for treatment.

The health board’s Choose Life coordinator Karen Smith meanwhile said in March there had been no suicides in the isles in 18 months.

Half of the study’s respondents from Shetland said they have suffered from depression, while six said they have had a generalised anxiety disorder.

Four said they have suffered from a social anxiety disorder, three said they have had suicidal thoughts and two reported self-harming behaviour.

The number of female respondents across Scotland was nearly four times than compared to males.

Anouska Civico of local mental health charity Mind Your Head said the concerns over waiting times and service provision were regularly echoed locally.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


She added that the charity, which is based at Lerwick’s Market House, is continuing to press ahead with plans to run its own support service.

“Mind Your Head have highlighted a gap in low level support services within Shetland and are hoping to be able to launch a support service very soon, funding dependant,” Civico said.

“We are keen to offer support at the very early stages of someone noticing a change in their behaviour and mood and are trying to ‘normalise’ these thoughts and feelings as everyone has mental health the same as we all have physical health, just often we overlook our own mental health much more than we do our physical health.”

Civico also praised the role of third sector organisations and charities when it comes to giving advice and support for people worried about their mental health.


“The third sector is more accessible and can respond quicker to the needs of the local community due to funding opportunities and there isn’t the stigma that is still associated with the council and NHS mental health services,” she said.

“For example if visiting a charity at Market House people have no idea what service you are accessing therefore people can obtain a comfortable level of anonymity.”

Jim Hume, convenor/manager of the Forum for Support in Mind Scotland, said the survey results form “evidence” which can be used to battle mental health issues in rural Scotland.

“Mental ill health can be more difficult to tackle in remoter parts of Scotland, due to isolation, transport issues and stigma,” he said.

“The National Rural Mental Health Forum is in a unique position to help rural communities tackle mental ill health through the outreach of the rural organisation members of the forum, the expertise of mental health organisation members and this ground breaking research.”


NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, who sits on the forum, added that the “pressures of modern day farming and rural living” can have an impact on mental wellbeing.

“The survey results must act as a platform to tackle the stigma that still exists around mental health in a traditional industry like farming,” he said.


Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.