Marlyn Glen MSP

Speech in the Scottish Parliament

See Me Campaign

29 September 2010


I add my thanks to Jackie Baillie for securing the debate to recognise that the see me campaign has made a significant contribution to tackling the stigma and discrimination that are associated with mental health problems. The debate is well timed, as next week is mental health awareness week.

We are aware that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some time in our lives and that a massive three quarters of us know someone who has a mental health problem.

Despite that, many people with mental ill health—81 per cent—told see me that they had experienced stigma.

People with mental ill health are less likely to be employed and are more likely to experience harassment.

We should be especially concerned that stigma exists in employment.

Only 21 per cent of people with long-term mental health problems have a job.

It is most concerning that few employers—only 30 per cent—are willing to recruit someone who has a mental health problem.

We need to look carefully at the fact that one in 10 employers has withdrawn a job offer because an applicant lied about or misrepresented their health situation on a health screening questionnaire.

For the same reason, 7 per cent of employers have dismissed an employee.

It is understandable that people try to protect themselves from the stigma, because they lose out as a result of it.

How can people be encouraged into work when even admitting to suffering from occasional depression could jeopardise their chances?

As a result, I look forward to the launch of SAMH's dismissed? campaign, which will campaign for fairness in relation to mental health and employability.

From claiming benefits to which people are entitled when they are sick or disabled to applying for, getting and keeping a job, people with mental health problems are disadvantaged in employability.

I strongly support SAMH's campaign.

As has been said, see me was launched in October 2002 as part of the Scottish Executive's national programme for improving mental health and wellbeing.

Its work has included national publicity campaigns, campaigns that are aimed at specific groups or environments, work with the media and support for local activities.

See me's approach focuses on awareness, prevention and direct action and targets environments such as the workplace and public services.

I commend the recent launch of BT's mental health service and the Scottish Parliament's counselling service.

Under the campaign, it has become increasingly unacceptable to use derogatory terms or negative

storylines about mental health or people with mental health problems, but there is still a long way to go.

It is unfortunate that some newspapers still occasionally carry lurid stories that misuse psychiatric terms, for example, to describe people.

It is up to each of us to challenge such unacceptable activities.

As it is recognised that effecting lasting change might take a whole generation, it is essential to measure the campaign's outcomes in the long term and to continue to fund the campaign with that in mind.

That applies particularly because the funding statistics from New Zealand that Jackie Baillie mentioned showed that every dollar spent there on reducing the stigma and discrimination that are associated with mental illness saved about $13, which is an amazing return.

I will mention quickly see me activities that have taken place in Dundee with the continuing support of Dundee Voluntary Action, which include a photographic competition that was linked to world mental health day.

I am pleased to note that Dundee street poet Gary Robertson has signed up to be the poetry judge for the see me creative writing competition this year.

I trust that the campaign will continue throughout Scotland and that we will see signs of a lasting change in society even sooner than we hoped.


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