Annual NHS Highland report focuses on mental health and suicide

Members, at their final meeting of full Council today, welcomed the annual report by Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s Director of Public Health, which focuses on mental health and suicide within the local population.

Stark figures and statistics throughout the report highlight the enormity of the issue within the NHS Highland area, alongside the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 in intensifying the matter.

The report looks at: 

  • The key concepts in suicidal behaviour;
  • Epidemiology of suicide and mental illness in Highland;
  • The impact of adversity in childhood; and
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health.

Members heard that the stark reality is that The Highland Council age-standardised rate for mental illness and suicide is significantly higher than Scotland as a whole, for both men and women in 2016-2020.

The report considers the importance of awareness and interventions that address the primary and root causes of individual, family and community distress that lead to suicide events.

Highland Council Leader, Councillor Margaret Davidson, said: “The statistics set out in the report make are truly sobering.  The consequences of suicide cannot be underestimated. It has an enormous impact on our communities, and for the individuals left behind. 

“We also recognise that the pandemic has been a major influence on the mental wellbeing of the population of Highland, and work to address these consequences continues to be vitally important.

I would urge anyone who is affected by these issues to seek help and support through one of the many sources available.”

To better understand COVID’s impact, and inform the provision of resource, during February and March 2021, the Highland Community Planning Partnership’s (CPP) Mental Health Delivery Group undertook an online survey which asked young people about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was undertaken to help inform any partnership response to support mental health and wellbeing for young people.

Highland Community Planning Partnership has a dedicated Mental Health and Wellbeing Delivery group which signposts individuals and communities to trusted sources of support for mental health and wellbeing, including where to get help in a crisis; resources and weblinks to support our mental wellbeing; and learning tools to build skills and confidence in having conversations about mental health and suicide prevention.

A ‘Prevent Suicide’ app has been developed which allows users to complete a ‘Prevent Suicide’ safety plan and this can be completed with the help of a trained listener or with a friend or family member. It also includes telephone numbers for local and national helplines which can offer support in some situations where people are feeling distressed or suicidal and there is guidance on what members of the public can do to help someone, they suspect is feeling suicidal.

To download the Prevent Suicide app click here.

If you, or someone you know needs support in relation to suicide, you can also call Samaritans on 116 123 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87.

10 Mar 2022