The head of a Scottish mental health charity has highlighted the importance of looking after those who need support in our local communities.
The rallying call from Mikeysline, which has seen a 75% rise in services, comes as the UK marks Mental Health Awareness Week (May 9-15).
Emily Stokes, CEO of Mikeysline – which provides face-to-face and text-based support in the Highlands and Moray, said:
“With the pandemic and political upheaval around the world, it can be easy to focus only on the bigger stories that dominate the news and our social media feeds.
“However it’s important not to overlook those that need help on our doorstep.
“Whether affected by global events or situations closer to home, it’s vital that we look after those in our local communities.
“Since the first Covid lockdown, we have seen a 75% increase in demand for our services providing non-judgemental support to those dealing with mental health issues, emotional distress, or thoughts of suicide in the Highlands and Moray.
“In recent months we have opened new Hives across the region and expanded our text services to include WhatsApp, and yet we are still seeing requests for help continue to rise.
“It’s a sad fact that the rate of suicide is higher in the Highlands than anywhere else in Scotland.
“We must all look out for each other and check in on people that may be suffering in silence.
“Simply asking how someone is could make all the difference.
“It’s important that anyone struggling with their mental health knows that it’s ok not to be ok, and that help is available from friends, family and services like Mikeysline.”
Mikeysline receives no government funding and relies on donations from businesses and individuals to provide its services.
Throughout May, fundraisers are being sponsored to cover vast distances across the country in the Miles for Mikeysline challenge.
Ms Stokes continued:
“We are so grateful to the businesses and individuals that have raised funds for us over the years and allowed us to expand our services to offer support to more and more people.
“Our ability to fundraise was severely reduced during the pandemic, and now that restrictions are lifting we are keen to explore more opportunities to allow us to implement even more potentially life-saving services in our communities.
“From businesses looking for a charity to sponsor for the year to race nights, bakes sales to sponsored silences, we’re keen to hear from any person or organisation that has a fundraising idea.”
Since 2015, Mikeysline has offered confidential, non-judgemental support to people of all ages with mental health issues or in emotional distress in the Highlands and Moray via a text line service at 07786 207755; WhatsApp at 01463 729000 and via its website; and live chat, Twitter and Messenger via its website.
The charity also produces a popular podcast, Speaking of Suicide, and offers face-to-face support from three Hives across the area – at its Inverness headquarters, at Tesco in Tain, and at The Place in Alness.