ONE of the best parts of my job as an MSP is being able to raise awareness and help with issues that can affect people all over Scotland.
Sometimes these can be conditions that affect a handful of people, at other times it is those that affect over a million – such as the issue of mental health.
Mental health is, unfortunately, still regarded with a certain stigma in Scotland, even although its problems are experienced by one in four people in any given year.
Worries about revealing mental health issues to family, friends or colleagues can mean people suffer in silence, and become increasingly isolated.
Figures released this month by the Scottish Association Of Mental Health show that more than 800,000 people in Scotland would not know where to seek help if they had concerns about their mental health.
I am passionate about tackling the stigma around mental health, and raising awareness about the challenges faced by those affected by any mental illness.
The Scottish Government recently launched the Mental Health Strategy For Scotland: 2012-2015, which aims to continue the progress made in promoting the rights and recovery of sufferers and the treatment they receive.
The inclusion of more than 30 key commitments shows how important the issue is to the Scottish Government.
A key commitment in the strategy is to ensure there is faster access to mental health services for young people.
Since becoming an MSP I have met young people who have received help for problems such as eating disorders, and have seen first-hand how important it is that services can be accessed quickly when they are most needed.
Skye House, at the Stobhill Hospital campus in Glasgow, has been specially designed and purpose built to fit the needs of young people with serious mental health problems, with the aim of optimising the care and treatment they receive.
The Mental Health Strategy For Scotland also highlights and congratulates the work carried out by See Me Scotland, the campaign to tackle stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems, and has provided a model of best practice for countries across the world.
Mental health is something we need to understand and remember every day of the year, not just when initiatives are launched.
Although strategies are important, what is just as vital is that we each try and learn a little more about mental health.
Sometimes just having someone to talk to can make the difference to a person's recovery.
We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.
Don't show me this again.
Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Nominate your Community Champion today